Business news 23 November 2021

James Salmon, Operations Director.

UK consumer spending continues to rise despite surging inflation. Small businesses predict best festive season for five years. And more business news.

UK consumer spending continues to rise despite surging inflation
Pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates has increased as consumer spending remains positive, driven by eating out and entertainment along with early Christmas shopping.

Small businesses predict best festive season for five years
A third of small business owners are predicting their best festive season for five years, according to Barclaycard data, with year-on-year transactions in the third quarter of 2021 up 21.9% across the board. Retail payments rose 15.6% during the period, while food and drink purchases grew by 27%. Leisure and entertainment firms experienced the biggest uplift, with a 54% year-on-year rise in payments. Colin O’Flaherty, Barclaycard Payments’ head of small business, said: “There may still be challenges that lay ahead, but the data from our barometer indicates SMEs are right to feel cautiously optimistic about the prospects of their own business as they head into 2022.”


Gas supplier Bulb, along with its parent company, has gone into ‘special administration’ – the first company to make use of the Ofgem process for managing administration.

It is the largest UK energy company – with 1.7m customers – to face difficulties following the sharp rise in wholesale gas prices this year. Bulb will become the first energy company to be placed into “special administration”, where it is run by the government through the regulator Ofgem.

“Customers of Bulb do not need to worry – Bulb will continue to operate as normal,” Ofgem said. “Customers will see no disruption to their supply and their account and tariff will continue as normal. Bulb staff will still be available to answer calls and queries.”

The special administration measure is only used if Ofgem is unable to find another company to take over an energy firm’s customers. The regulator said it was planning to apply to a court to appoint an administrator who will run the company.

US Fed

US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell has secured nomination for a second term from President Biden, helping US stocks, bond yields & the Dollar rose before stocks ended down from highs. Mr Biden’s decision is a nod towards continuity and bipartisanship.  Mr Powell, originally appointed by Trump is set to stay in the role, which includes managing inflation and regulating the financial system, for a further four years.

British Airways & Heathrow

International Consolidated Airlines’s British Airways will consider cutting Heathrow flights if proposed increases in charges are implemented, Chief Executive Officer Luis Gallego claimed on Monday. Gallego said the west London airport’s fees were already among the highest in the world and are becoming “more and more expensive.


TUI has announced above-average booking growth driven by a flurry of holiday bookings for next summer. “The announcement of the opening of the USA to tourists alone has spurred demand,”


Compass Group reported annual profit that more than doubled as cost cuts offset a fall in revenue owing to the due to the pandemic impact. For the year ended 30 September 2021, pre-tax profit rose to £464 million from £210 million year-on-year, while revenue fell to £17.91 billion from £19.94 billion.

Tax cuts and deregulation needed for UK to succeed, says Lord Frost
Lord Frost told a Centre for Policy Studies conference on Monday that Britain must reject the “European social model” or the split from the EU would be put at risk. He called for reduced regulation and tax cuts to set Brexit Britain apart. The Brexit minister said: “I can’t share the views of those who think we can treat the private sector as just a convenient way of keeping the public sector running. It isn’t just a source of taxes. Nor is it a bunch of people who will inevitably do bad things unless the Government keeps a very close eye on them. We can’t carry on as we were before and if, after Brexit, all we do is import the European social model, we will not succeed.” The Telegraph suggests Lord Frost’s intervention will be seen to reflect wider Tory concerns over tax rises.

Women compensated less for extra Covid responsibilities
A global survey by the ADP Research Institute found that pay for women taking on extra duties at work during the pandemic has failed to keep pace with that of their male counterparts. Some 76% of men in the UK received a pay rise or bonus for taking on new roles and extra responsibilities to fill gaps left by Covid-related job losses. For women, the equivalent figure was 68%. “Employees have been stepping up to support their employers in the face of job cuts or restructuring of operations, yet women are not being rewarded as favourably as men for taking on additional responsibilities,” said Jeff Phipps, managing director of ADP UK.

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