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British retail rebound 

Retail sales fell by 3.3% in December 2023 due to a lack of consumer confidence. However, they have since rebounded, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics. Sales rebounded by 3.4% in January which represents the most significant rise since April of 2021. This rise was mostly surged by food stores and restaurants which massively exceeded projections. However, volumes also rose in most areas with the exception of a slump for clothes stores. From a consumer perspective, this rise has been due to healthy wage growth and lower inflation, which has given consumers the confidence to spend in the last couple of months.

This growth is a huge relief for the UK economy, which had slipped into a technical recession at the end of last year, and with the upcoming budget, fast and significant change was desperately needed. Andrew Bailey, BoE governor, said this week that the UK was seeing signs of an economic “upturn” after the weakness at the end of 2023. However, trends in productivity and investment have been less promising. Overall, data from ONS displays that the UK economy is still lagging behind where it was before the pandemic, with sales volumes 1.3% below pre-pandemic levels.


UK Newspapers

Over the last seven days, the UK’s front page news cycle has covered many topics. Planning applications jump fourfold along course of HS2, UK insurers encourage public-private schemes to deploy £100bn green investment and a bidding war takes place for UK electronics chain Currys. Some of the newspaper headlines from this week were:


Sunak bids to win over UK farmers

Recent polls suggest that Conservatives are losing ground in support from rural strongholds. This week, Sunak will be making an appearance at the National Farmers’ Union annual conference to make a pledge to improve support for farmers and to acknowledge the massive economic squeeze they are under at the moment. To win support, Sunak will announce a £220mn fund to improve productivity as part of the £2.4bn the government has said it would spend annually on farming. Part of this support is due to growing concerns that UK farmers will replicate some of their neighbouring countries’ demonstrations, such as in France. However, so far, UK farmers have stayed away from protests.

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