New technology has gained momentum in our high streets. Some Blog readers may already use it, while others are not aware of it. Have you spotted a ‘contactless’ card reader in your favourite shop? The technology and card readers have been around since 2007, but mainly in our big cities. It works in a similar way to having a Oyster card on the London underground, swipe at the beginning and end of your journey and thats it. however contactless card readers are linked directly to your bank account rather than adding credit to an Oyster card. If you use it already, you will be interested to know that the spending limit is to be increased to £30 later this year. The current limit is £20. Over £2 billion was spent on 300 million transactions using the technology in 2014. People using the transport networks in London, Leeds and Cambridge are the trend setters. 1 in 10 journeys in these cities are paid for using this process. The technology allows customers to make payments just by briefly touching the card on a reader, and that’s it. There is no need to enter a PIN or wait for a printed receipt. Consumers are switching away from carrying cash. Having to go to a cash machine to get a note out, buying a coffee or birthday card, then jumping on a train normally results in a pocket full of change. People are more careful with every penny these days so paying the exact amount is a winner. Several cities, including Manchester, plan to introduce contactless payments at a grand scale in the near future.
In October 2015, the minimum wage will rise by 20p to £6.70 an hour. This increase will mean more money for over a million lower paid workers throughout the UK. The Government has accepted the advice and independent recommendations to also raise the levels for younger workers over 18 by 17p to £5.30 an hour, and for 16 and 17 age group by 8p to £3.87. Apprentices wages are also increasing by 57p to £3.30 an hour. With the election only a few weeks away, the minimum wage is major issue for the various parties to get right. The Prime Minister, David Cameron has called on the UK employers to “give Britain a pay rise” following the improved economic situation over the last few years. More money in peoples pockets means more money being spent in our shops and businesses. I’ve spoken in this column before about the Governments huge push for school and college leavers gaining ‘hands on’ practical knowledge. One of the main ways for young people to do this is by taking on a apprenticeship qualification. Having practical experience in a trade is a huge plus point for anyone applying for a job. This country will always need skilled trades such as plumbers and electricians. The Prime Minister went on to say “Whether you’re on low pay or starting your dream career through an apprenticeship, you will get more support to help you go further and faster.” The opposition party, Labour has promised that their levels of wages will rise to £8 by 2020.
Shoppers have been spending their hard earned pennies even more recently. We’ve just had the sunniest April since records began, and this has helped lift quarterly retail sales figures for businesses across the country. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has announced an 0.6% increase in overall retail spending. The ‘feel good’ weather has made people leave their houses and spend. Non food sales rose 2.3%, with food sales going up 0.4% over the quarter. The BRC quoted in the report that it gave “a clear indication that confidence among consumers is slowly improving even more”. They also mentioned “this is despite overall profitability being under intense pressure due to continued changes in shopping habits”. These shopping habits include shopping via websites and the attractiveness of home delivery. Consumers are also not being loyal to any one brand or product any more as they search for a discount or bargain. Old habits use to be shopping in the same place every time. Now, with adverts, social media and the internet, shoppers can be swayed to go elsewhere if they see a better reason to go. Retailers will be paying out for shop rents and business rates at the end of this quarter, so they will be trying extra hard to attract more footfall into their stores. This normally means ‘summer sales’ starting early. The good news is that it is set to continue, The weather ahead looks to stay warm and sunny through out the summer and the news of Princess Charlotte being born continues the consumers ‘feel good’ factor and encourages spending even more as we head into the next quarter.

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“LRB Trophies is a must for any football presentation”

I contacted LRB Trophies online for my football clubs end of season trophies, the service I got was outstanding, couldn’t have helped enough… I will always go back to them season after season. – Ryan Kidd – Angus, Scotland.

Recently I was delighted to be invited to meet the UK’s Taiwanese Ambassador, Dr Liu Chih Kung on his visit to see our historic town. Following on from Selby’s sudden increased tourism due to Asian Pop Star, Jay Chou getting married in the Abbey, the ambassador wanted to see the famous location for himself. Selby is very famous in Asia. My business mentor, Nigel Adams MP made the arrangements to welcome Dr Liu to Selby and invited me to attend the business lunch. Nigel Adams wanted to help the ambassadors idea of increasing the UK-Taiwanese business partnerships and exportation between the two countries. The Ambassadors delegation party included Mr Lee, the Director of the Taipei Economic Division, Mr Horng, Managing director of the Taiwan Trade Centre and Miss Lee assistant director to the UK’s Taiwanese political division. All the members of the delegation we’re very friendly and spoke excellent English. They we’re very interested in the items and services our company supply and suggested possible ideas that I’ll work on in the very near future. I had various decisions with them all as they wanted to help Small and Medium sized businesses (SME’s). Companies such as mine do not have vast marketing departments or over seas distribution agents. The Chief Executive of Selby District Council, Mary Weastell gave a presentation about the huge benefits of working with the areas businesses and how infrastructure was already in place to help make the partnerships run smoothly. During the networking lunch, I was invited to email each member of the delegation separately to see what help, guidance and progression they can help my company with.