Monday’s headlines – 23rd December 2013

Economics
A late shopping surge helped John Lewis serve up record weekly sales, but many retailers have been forced to slash prices to entice in cash-constrained customers. Selling on iPad every 10 seconds helped John Lewis to notch up £164.4m worth of revenues in the week ending Saturday night, a 4.2% increase on the same period in 2012, and 32% stronger than two years ago. Shopowners are hoping for a last rush of trade today to make up for lost revenues in what appears so far not to have been an outstanding seasonal period. (p.21 of The Guardian and p.13 of The Independent)

Personal Finance
Millions of shoppers were expected to hit the high street today to spend £2.6million per minute on what was predicted to be the busiest shopping day of the year. Retail analysts estimated that 15million shoppers will head out in a last minute “Manic Monday” dash to buy gifts, food, drink and decorations, after bad weather in much of the country kept people at home on Saturday. Shoppers were expected to part with £3.6billion by the end of the day. (p.6 of The Daily Telegraph)

Property
Vince Cable has reprised his attack on the Chancellor’s Help to Buy scheme, saying that interest rates may have to be raised to curb a “raging housing boom” in London and the South East. The Business Secretary is opposed to the policy, which uses taxpayer’s cash to underwrite mortgages worth up to 90% of properties. He told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One that “the only people who can [currently] afford to live in large parts of London are foreigners and bankers”. The Bank of England is committed to reviewing Help to Buy next autumn and the Chancellor has said it is unlikely to continue beyond the next election (p.2 of The Times and p.23 of The Daily Telegraph)

Homeowners have turned their dwellings into cash machines in the run-up to Christmas as remortgaging reaches record levels, according to property service company LMS. Gross remortgage lending increased by £18m in November to £4.22bn, 24% higher than this time last year, figures from the company show (p.24 of The Daily Telegraph)

Recruitment
The jobs recovery accelerated last month but there is still a prominent north-south divide according to jobs search engine Adzuna. It was 200 times more difficult to get a job in Salford, where there were 65 applicants for every vacancy, than in Cambridge or Aberdeen, where 0.31 applied. Nine of the 10 best cities for finding a job were in the South of England, while eight of the worst were in the North. (p.2 of the Financial Times, p.21 of The Guardian and p.14 of the Daily Mirror)

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