Do Smaller Internet Rivals Offer Greater Privacy Compared to Google and Facebook?

( via – – Sat, 25th Jan 2020) London, Uk – –

“We agree to give these companies ownership of our lives and they are cashing in,” says Edward Armstrong, a freelance copywriter and consultant originally from Newcastle, UK, but now based in London.

He has abandoned using the services of internet giants like Google and Facebook and is using smaller rivals, which promise greater privacy.

“I'm uncomfortable with the power of the major service providers such as Google and Facebook. We think everything is free, but the cost is our data and privacy,” he says.

If Google knows everything you have ever searched for, it has a detailed catalogue of your interests, hopes and fears. Facebook knows who your friends are, what you like and what you talk about online.

Online data scandals have raised concerns about the power that information brings. Facebook is facing a fine of $5bn for its part in the notorious misuse of data by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Concern is growing. A survey by the Washington-based digital agency Rad Campaign and analytics firm Lincoln Park Strategies last year, for example, found three out of five responders in the US distrust social media when it comes to protecting their privacy.

But amid that distrust, some see opportunity. Is there a demand for a search engine that doesn't store data?

DuckDuckGo was founded in 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg, who wanted to create a new search engine, with better results and less spam.

The search engine, which registers around 50 million searches per day, works in the same way as Google but maintains a simple privacy policy of not storing or sharing personal information.

“We share our most intimate information with search engines – financial, medical, etc – and that information deserves to be private and not used for profiling or data targeting,” the company's communications manager Daniel Davis says.

“People deserve a private alternative to the services they use. They deserve simple tools that empower them to take back their privacy, without any tradeoffs.

“DuckDuckGo Search gets its results from various sources, so we're able to offer relevant results without storing search history or user profiles.”

The technology in the company's app and browser extension goes a step further, protecting users wherever they go on the web by silently blocking third-party trackers in the background, automatically using secure connections to websites, and showing a privacy grade for each website visited.

DuckDuckGo is free, and makes its money through advertising, but the adverts it displays are not based on your history or behaviour. If you search for “car” on DuckDuckGo, you may see a car-related advert, but it will not be influenced by anything you have searched for or browsed in the past.

“We believe the Internet shouldn't feel so creepy, and getting the privacy you deserve online should be as simple as closing the blinds,” Mr Davis says. “We're setting an example that we hope others will follow.”

And others are following. ProtonMail has become the world's largest provider of encrypted email, with 20 million users.

Emails between ProtonMail accounts are automatically protected with end-to-end encryption, meaning the messages are only viewable by the sender and the recipient.

“The messages are encrypted before they reach our servers meaning that even we are unable to read them!” says ProtonMail's founder Andy Yen.

“This also means users' data is safe even in a scenario where ProtonMail's servers are breached as there wouldn't be any usable data to steal.”

ProtonMail is also free to use, and makes its money by charging for upgrades and additional storage.

“Over the last couple of years we're seeing more and more members of the general public and small businesses joining us, most of whom have become more aware of how their data is being gathered and used – and often lost – by companies and governments,” says Mr Yen.

The service has proven popular enough that it has spun out another service, ProtonVPN, which allows users to browse the internet securely and privately.

A similar free, secure browsing service, Brave, blocks the tracking and profiling of users, protecting privacy and making browsing faster, it claims.

It makes money by through advertising, but users have the option to redirect some of those funds back to their favourite sites.

Brave says it has 8.7 million monthly active users and chief product officer David Temkin believes this number will only grow as the world wakes up to what he calls “the negative effects of the surveillance economy”.

“There's a growing sense that something needs to be done and Brave offers a concrete solution now,” Mr Temkin says.

Despite the alternatives, Facebook is growing at an ever-faster rate, hitting 2.45 billion monthly users in the third quarter of 2019, while the likes of WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, and Google are also still increasing their user bases.

It isn't easy to leave services like that behind and Mr Armstrong says that most of his peer group are happy to continue using them.

“I use ProtonMail instead of Gmail; DuckDuckGo instead of Google Search; Firefox for my browser instead of Chrome; and then Signal in place of WhatsApp,” he says.

“The usual reaction is friends don't care. They are pretty happy using the [mainstream] services. I've talked my girlfriend into using [the messaging service] Slack, but she just uses WhatsApp for all her other friends still,” he says.

He hopes this will change over time.

“It is not from lack of education, as the Facebook scandals caused quite a few to get rid of it, so I think it will just take more awareness for people to start moving away.”

By Tom Jackson

Why Finland And Denmark Have Happiness All Figured Out

Source: CNBC

What does it take to be happy? The Nordic countries seem to have it all figured out. Finland and Denmark have consistently topped the United Nations’ most prestigious index, The World Happiness Report, in all six areas of life satisfaction: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. Learn more about work-life balance secrets from the happiest countries in the world on CNBC Make It: Each year, a group of happiness experts from around the globe rank 156 countries based on how “happy” citizens are, and they publish their findings in the World Happiness Report. Happiness might seem like an elusive concept to quantify, but there is a science to it. When researchers talk about “happiness,” they’re referring to “satisfaction with the way one’s life is going,” Jeff Sachs, co-creator of the World Happiness Report and a professor at Columbia University, tells CNBC Make It. “It’s not primarily a measure of whether one laughed or smiled yesterday, but how one feels about the course of one’s life,” he says. Since the report began in 2012, Nordic countries — which include Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, plus the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Aland — consistently turn up at the top of the list. (The United States, on the other hand, typically lands somewhere around 18th or 19th place.)

Ritz – The Epitome of Luxury Hotels

Source: wocomo Travel

Cesar Ritz’ story is one of personal drama: a man who has it all and finally collapses. He loses everything in the end, his family, the hotels, and his mind. Only his brilliant opus survives. Ritz’ genius consisted in captivating every novelty in record time and in transforming it into his world of hotel business almost instinctively. The technical progress was the main inspiration of the ingenious inventor. Cesar Ritz was every bit like the fuming and effervescing locomotives of his time that pulled him across Europe, from capital to capital, to the hotels of the Ritz Company, resembling themselves huge machines.

The Rise And Fall Of American Apparel

Source: CNBC

At American Apparel's peak, it was one of the most popular teen retail stores in the 2000s. Controversial CEO Dov Charney and sexual marketing made the brand, but that is also what led to its fall from grace. Will a new turnaround plan be enough for investors and consumers to get behind the retail brand?

Credit card betting deposits to be banned from April

( via– Tue, 14th Jan 2020) London, Uk – –

A ban on almost all credit card transactions is to be introduced to help protect problem gamblers and other vulnerable customers.

Customers of gambling companies are going to be banned from using their credit cards for betting from 14 April.

The Gambling Commission's announcement, which aims to tackle problem gambling and protect vulnerable customers, has sparked steep falls in the share prices of major industry players.

All online and offline betting activities will be covered except “non-remote lotteries” such as National Lottery tickets that are purchased in a store.

The ban builds on other measures to stop people getting into debt – including a reduction in the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals, and whistle-to-whistle advertising bans during sporting events.

Although Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur acknowledged that some consumers use credit cards for convenience, he warned that the risk of harm to others was too high.

He said: “The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have.

“Research shows that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm.

“We also know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability.

“There is also evidence that the fees charged by credit cards can exacerbate the situation because the consumer can try to chase losses to a greater extent.”

Culture minister Helen Whately said: “In the past year we have introduced a wave of tougher measures, including cutting the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (from £100 to £2), bringing in tighter age and identity checks for online gambling and expanding national specialist support through the NHS Long-Term Plan.

“We have also secured a series of commitments from five leading gambling operators that will include £100m funding towards treatment for problem gamblers.

“But there is more to do. We will be carrying out a review of the Gambling Act to ensure it is fit for the digital age and we will be launching a new nationwide addiction strategy in 2020.”

The commission said 24 million adults in Great Britain gamble, with 10.5 million of those gambling online.

UK Finance, a banking industry interest group, estimates that 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble.

Shares in listed gambling firms took a beating when trading opened despite the measure being largely expected.

The owner of the Paddy Power and Betfair brands, Flutter, saw its stock dip by 2% in early deals.

Ladbrokes owner GVC took a hit of over 2%, while William Hill shares were 5% lower.

Brigid Simmonds, who chairs industry body the Betting and Gaming Council, said of the looming ban: “The Betting and Gaming Council is a body firmly committed to raising standards, safer gambling and change.

“We will implement a ban on credit cards and indeed our members will go further to study and improve the early identification of those at risk.

“The use of credit cards were previously used as a potential marker of harm which might lead to further intervention with customers.”

Those firms with strong high street presences have largely looked for growth in online games and in the burgeoning US market to plug the hit from the FOBT and other crackdowns in the UK.

The loss of the in-store income has resulted in the closure of hundreds of stores and thousands of jobs.

The Gambling Commission is also expected to target so-called VIP schemes, which reward punters with perks for their custom, as part of the next phase of its work.

By James Sillars

Experience A Video Tour Inside NYC’s Skinniest Supertall Skyscraper

Source: Bloomberg

Experience this VR180 video in 3D with a VR headset (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) or with Google Cardboard. If viewing on desktop or mobile, click and drag your mouse or rotate your phone to explore a wider field of vision. Much has been made of New York’s 57th Street. It’s the most luxurious street in the world; more houses were bought for north of $25 million in the last five years on Billionaire’s Row than on any other road globally. It’s also rife with super-tall skyscrapers: Central Park Tower, 432 Park Avenue, and 111 West 57th Street are each taller than 1,300 feet, or about a quarter of a mile high.  

Jaguar Land Rover show signs of recovery after sales dip in 2019

( via — Fri, 10th Jan 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) posted a 6% fall in full-year sales on Friday after a challenging year in which its performance was hit by the weakening Chinese autos market and falling demand for diesel vehicles in Europe.

Retail sales stood at 557,706 vehicles in 2019, hit by a 13.5% slump in China, but in the last six months the firm reported double-digit growth in the country, with overall company sales up 1.3% in December.

“2019 was a year of two halves,” said Chief Commercial Officer Felix Brautigam.

“Over the last six months we saw a marked improvement in China, where intensive work with our retailers, combined with significant process and product improvements are starting to gain traction.”

At the start of 2019, JLR announced plans to cut around 10% of its workforce and it has been pursuing measures to reduce costs and improve cash flows by 2.5 billion pounds.

The company, owned by India’s Tata Motors (TAMO.NS), returned to the black in the three months to the end of September 2019, posting a 156 million-pound profit.

JLR, like much of the car industry, has also faced the challenge of stepping up investment in zero and low-emissions vehicles as regulations tighten while simultaneously dealing with a drop in demand for some conventionally-powered models.

It has paired up with BMW (BMWG.DE) to jointly develop electric motors, transmissions and power electronics which should allow it to share some of the high costs of advancing the green technology.

Reporting by Costas Pitas

Superdry warns profits could be wiped out after sales fell sharply over Christmas

( via – – Fri, 10th Jan 2020) London, Uk – –

Fashion chain Superdry has warned that its profits could be wiped out after sales fell sharply over Christmas.

The firm, which has been trying to sell more clothes at full price, said it had been hit by “unprecedented levels of promotional activity” by rivals.

Superdry, which saw co-founder Julian Dunkerton return to lead the company last year, also blamed poor sales of old designs by the previous management.

Revenues at the retailer fell 15.8% over the 10 weeks to 4 January.

As a result, the company said it now expected full-year profits to be between zero and £10m, compared with analysts' expectations of about £40m.

Shares in the company sank 20% in reaction to the news.

The company has experienced a turbulent 12 months.

In April last year, Mr Dunkerton returned to the firm following a lengthy campaign against the previous management, who – he argued – were following a “misguided” strategy.

Since his return, Mr Dunkerton has been trying to focus on full-price sales and reducing promotions, but this meant the chain suffered over the crucial Christmas trading period as other brands slashed prices.

Mr Dunkerton said: “Everyone at Superdry continues to work intensively to deliver the turnaround of the business. While we have always said it will take time, we continue to make progress in implementing our strategy.”

“We halved the proportion of discounted sales over our peak trading period, benefiting both our margins and the Superdry brand.

“However, this adversely affected our sales during the peak trading period, given the level of promotional activity in the market. Despite this, our disciplined plan to reinvigorate the brand and return Superdry to sustainable long-term growth is on track.”

The company said it had been “encouraged” by the reaction to the limited range of new designs brought in by the new management, but added this had not been enough “to offset weaker trading on older product”.

Analysts at Liberum said Superdry's problems were partly self-inflicted.

“We agree a full-price stance is appropriate for branded fashion companies,” they said.

“However, this only works when the quality of the product and ranges are adequate, and maybe the management were too aggressive with this stance while still trying to clear a less-than-ideal mix of inventory.”

Profit warning from Joules

Fashion brand Joules added to the retail sector's woes after it said profits were set to be “significantly below market expectations” following poor Christmas trading.

The company said sales were “significantly behind expectations”, dropping 4.5% in the seven weeks to 5 January from a year earlier, although it blamed this on “one-off” issues that hit the availability of stock.

Joules also said it expected cost “headwinds” as a result of tariffs being imposed by the US-China trade war.

Shares in Joules fell 20% in response to the update.

Joules chief executive Nick Jones said: “We are disappointed with our inability to fully satisfy our customers' demand through our online channel during the important Christmas sale period.

“We have identified the root cause of this one-off issue and have taken steps to prevent its reoccurrence.”

Aldi topped £1bn in Christmas sales as it opens more stores

( via – – Mon, 6th Jan 2020) London, Uk – –

Retailer says it sold 55m mince pies and 22m pigs in blankets in run-up to Christmas

Christmas sales at Aldi topped £1bn for the first time, as the German-owned discount supermarket continued its rapid expansion in the UK.

Sales in UK in the four weeks to Christmas Eve rose by 7.9% compared with the same trading period of the previous year, the grocer said on Monday. The company did not report a like-for-like sales figure.

Aldi aims to increase its UK chain from 874 stores to 1,200 by 2025.

The growth has weighed on profits as it pours money into new stores and cutting prices to boost sales. Figures published in September showed that Aldi’s 2018 profits fell by almost a fifth as it invested £530m in expansion.

Aldi’s share of the UK grocery market stands at 8%, having increased by 0.4% during the past 12 months, it said. It is the UK’s fifth largest grocery retailer.

The arrival of Aldi and its German discount rival Lidl has challenged incumbent competitors. The two companies’ combined market share rose from 13.2% to 14.1% in the 12 months to the end of November 2019, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel. Tesco and Sainsbury both lost 0.3 percentage points of share in the same period, to 27.3% and 15.7% respectively, while Morrison lost 0.4 points to 10.1%.

Aldi said that increased sales of alcohol, meat and its premium Specially Selected range were behind the sales increase. Sales in the beers, wine and spirits category increased by 9.2% year on year, with sparkling wines up by 14%, while sales of Specially Selected products and meat both rose by 8%.

Giles Hurley, the Aldi UK chief executive, said: “More customers than ever before shopped with us this Christmas.”

He added: “Although we saw strong growth across all key categories, sales of our premium Specially Selected range surpassed expectations.”

During the period, Aldi sold 55m mince pies, 22m pigs in blankets and more than 2m Christmas puddings.

By Jasper Jolly

Next exceeds Christmas profit forecasts as demand for knitwear boost sales

( via – – Fri, 3rd Jan 2020) London, Uk – –

Retailer nudges profit guidance for year up to £727m after online sales soared

Next has emerged as a winner from a tough Christmas trading period for Britain’s retailers after a cold November stoked demand for winter coats and knitwear.

The high street company reported full-price sales growth of 5.2% for the last two months of 2019, which was well ahead of its forecasts. The better than expected outcome meant Next nudged up its profit guidance for the year by £2m to £727m.

Under its longstanding chief executive, Simon Wolfson, Next has been one of the industry’s most resilient retailers. The strength of its home shopping arm, which sells other fashion brands as well as its own, helped offset falling sales in its high street chain. The same was true this Christmas, with in-store sales falling 3.9%, while online sales jumped 15.3%.

Wolfson said a chilly November, compared with mild conditions in 2018, helped the retailer to beat internal sales budgets by £9m – although the number of shoppers visiting its stores on Boxing Day had been “disappointing”. Holiday spending behaviour was little changed from the rest of the year, he added.

“There isn’t a special Christmas consumer confidence versus the rest of the year confidence,” Wolfson explained. “The underlying consumer environment was very similar to what it has been for the rest of the year.” There was “no evidence” that the election had affected trading, he said.

Next is the first major retailer to reveal its performance over the all-important Christmas trading period. The run-up to the holiday was characterised by heavy discounting by rivals, starting with the Black Friday extravaganza at the end of November. The weekly updates provided by the department store chain John Lewis point to a huge spike in trade around Black Friday followed by several disappointing weeks in December.

Wolfson said his feeling was that Black Friday “was less of a thing” than in 2018. “People have forgotten how big it was last year and the year before that,” he said. Next said the amount of stock in its own Black Friday promotion was 20% down on the previous year.

“Our sense is that there was less Black Friday discounting than last year but that is very anecdotal,” he continued. “The disappointment in retail [its stores] was very much one day and that was Boxing Day and I think that was more to do with the rain than anything.”

Richard Lim, the chief executive of the consultancy firm Retail Economics, said Next was reaping the benefit from years of investment in its web operation that had come into its own as shopping habits changed.

“This was an impressive end to the year as their outstanding online business continues to set them apart from the competition,” he said. “There’s no doubt that more Christmas shopping was done online this year than ever before. Consumers expect to be able to seamlessly shop across a multitude of physical and digital channels, often at the same time, and the retailer has embraced this new reality.”

Reporting by Zoe Wood

Sneaky Ways Movie Theaters Are Designed to Get You Spending More Money

Source: BI

Between ticket prices and concessions, movie theaters are expensive. But movie theater chains like AMC and Regal only keep around 50% of the revenue from ticket sales each year. But theaters are able to keep over 80% of concessions revenue as profit. So most theaters are designed to get you to spend money on food. And it works, AMC reports that more than 71% of attendees spend money on concessions.

15 Steps to Become a Billionaire

Source: Alux

This video well try to answer the following questions: How to get rich? How do you get rich? How do people invest? How to invest? What are the steps to getting rich? Why some people get rich and others don't? What are some proven ways of getting rich? How to make money? How to build wealth? How to create a business? How to start a business? How to get rich quick? How to get rich without being lucky? How to get rich book How to Get Filthy Rich Quick? How to get rich fast? What is the most effective yet efficient way to get rich? What is the easiest yet the most respectable way to become rich? What are the best legal ways to get rich? How long does it take to get rich? How do rich people make money? How do rich people get rich? How to get rich from zero? How to get rich starting with nothing? How to become a millionaire? How to become a billionaire? How could I get rich? I am desperate to get rich, what can I do? How can I get rich while I am still young? What are the fastest ways of getting rich? How to get rich without money? How to get rich when you're a teenager? What is the best way to get rich?

How Hamleys pick the right Christmas toys?

( via – – Thur, 26th Dec 2019) London, Uk – –

It can be stressful deciding what toy to buy for kids at Christmas.

Imagine, then, deciding what toys to buy to fill the shelves of Hamleys on London's Regent Street, where more than 650,000 shoppers have already walked through the doors this December.

It is a mammoth task that starts at the beginning of the year, according to Sumeet Yadav, who runs the retail business of Reliance Brands, which owns Hamleys.

He says the stores' buyers visit toy fairs all over the world to decide what children will want for Christmas, when Hamleys makes about a fifth of its money.

It's “a bit of science and a bit of luck”, Mr Yadav says, describing their process.

The science is identifying and matching social trends with the toys being made by manufacturers.

This year, a lot of people are trying to spend more time with family in what Mr Yadav describes as a “disconnected world”.

He suggests that explains the popularity of Pictionary Air, a digital twist on the old card game in which players have to illustrate a word or phrase on a card for their team to guess.

‘Sometimes you go wrong'

“A lot of toys, which were traditional in the past, are now coming back with a technology connect,” he explains.

As for the luck, Mr Yadav says: “Sometimes you go wrong.”

The next challenge is to get those toys into the hands of children.

That starts with elves “creating a ruckus” on Regent Street, home to Hamleys' flagship store.

The theatre is designed to engage customers from the moment they enter the shop.

Once they are inside, Mr Yadav says, the “magic guy”, “the bubbles person” and “the guy flying the drone or the fighter jet” are all trying to get the customer to touch the toys.

He says that creates an “affinity” with the consumer.

Emotional connection

“When you do the magic trick and a three-year-old kid is able to deliver the magic and suddenly he is the hero of the other 50 people that are looking at him, that's a powerful feeling,” he says.

“The idea is to make an emotional connect, which is what we believe toys are to most parents and kids.”

And it appears to be working for the business.

Mr Yadav says the firm has seen an increase in like-for-like sales since this time last year, bucking a wider trend toward dismal performance on the High Street.

The store has benefited from a surge in sales in the final few days before Christmas, which Mr Yadav will want to continue until the stores close on Christmas Eve.

And he might get his wish. Figures from YouGov suggest that more than 10% of shoppers still buying presents in December would not finish their shopping until Christmas Eve.

Other toy shops, such as The Entertainer, which has about 150 stores across the country, are also hoping for a last-minute rush.

The firm's founder, Gary Grant, told the BBC that the final three months of the year had been “challenging” for his chain of toy stores.

He says October, November and December are the most important months for the company.

“It's the quarter in which – as a toy retailer – we actually make money,” he says.

Fortunately, there has been an eleventh-hour boost in sales ahead of the big day.

“December has picked up since Black Friday – and these last few days have been absolutely outstanding,” he says.

The Entertainer is not the only store to see Christmas come late this year.

Diane Wehrle from Springboard, which tracks visits to the High Street, says more and more people are leaving their shopping to the last minute in the hopes of finding a bargain.

‘More clever, more savvy'

In fact, Monday saw a 10% increase in the number of people flocking to retail parks, compared with the final Saturday before Christmas, also known as “Super Saturday”. And 3% more visited high streets and retail parks.

She expects a further surge in store visits on Christmas Eve, as shoppers grow “ever more clever and ever more savvy” by waiting until the last minute to do their Christmas shopping in the hope that retailers will drop prices further in the final hours before the big day.

But she says a rush before shops close on Christmas Eve is unlikely to make up for a Super Saturday that “wasn't very super”.

That, she says, is because younger people are more conscious of wastefulness when they shop.

The collective change in consciousness is partly due to the influence of environmental campaigners such as Greta Thunberg, Ms Wehrle says.

But she also thinks it is influenced by the number of young people renting in the UK, where more than a third of 23-34 year olds live in rented accommodation.

She says that makes them “transient” and unlikely to want to accumulate stuff to lug between houses when they move.

As a result, she says, there is less of a focus on “token gifts”, as young people put their money into single big-ticket experiences rather than buying “pointless” presents.

“They are buying fewer unnecessary gifts that will just fill stockings,” she says.

By Dan Ascher

Christmas Day Online spending expected to exceed £1bn

( via – – Wed, 25th Dec 2019) London, Uk – –

Online Christmas Day spending expected to exceed £1bn

Expected surge in online purchases comes as number of people visiting shops falls 8% compared with last year

Shoppers are forecast to spend more than £1bn online on Christmas Day after retailers lowered prices on Christmas Eve and the last-minute dash to the high street failed to materialise.

The number of people visiting high streets, shopping centres and retail parks was down nearly 8% by midday on 24 December compared with last year, according to the customer data firm Springboard. “I am quite surprised by the extent of the drop,” said Diane Wehrle, the organisation’s insights director.

She said a combination of factors was likely to be at play including low consumer confidence, the switch to online shopping and a reaction against buying unneeded items. The arrival in the UK of Black Friday, which usually falls in late November, has also changed shopping patterns, persuading bargain hunters to bag their presents early.

“Black Friday being so much stronger has taken quite a lot of steam out of the market,” Wehrle said. “There has been a real change at Christmas.”

Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Currys PC World and Boots kicked off their sales online on 24 December, as they have done for several years. An expected 7.3 million people were expected to shop online on Christmas Eve spending £734m compared with £850m in stores, according to Vouchercodes and the Centre for Retail Research.

Discounts this year will be greater than recent years after low footfall in the final shopping days before Christmas and evidence that the difficult trading on the high street is spreading to online retailers.

In the past, the last few days, or even weeks, before Christmas were dedicated to shopping on the high street, as home deliveries from online retailers could not be guaranteed to arrive in time for 25 December.

However, shops now face competition from online players right up to the last minute, as companies including Argos and Amazon accept same-day delivery orders on Christmas Eve. Subscribers to Amazon’s Prime Now service, for example, can order up until 21.15 on Christmas Eve for same-day deliveries before midnight.

Amid heavy competition, John Lewis said sales for the week to 21 December were down 5.1% on the same week last year, even after it extended its deadline for click-and-collect orders up until Christmas Eve.

It blamed the poor figures on sales being pulled forward into the Black Friday discount period in late November. Fashion and beauty sales were down by just over 5% but homewares and technology performed even worse – down 8.9%.

Boots is offering half-price discounts on selected No7 cosmetics and Oral B toothbrushes as well as some Christmas gift collections such as Champneys bubble bath.

M&S has 35% off a cashmere wrap as part of a list of knitwear price cuts of up to 40% off. It also offered 20% off champagne and half price on beauty gifts and some children’s wear, including a unicorn T-shirt on Christmas Eve.

John Lewis was offering 50% off womenswear on Christmas Eve, while Hobbs and Whistles upped their price cuts to 70%, from 50% at the weekend.

Late last week, Topshop and Miss Selfridge increased their discounts to up to 60%, from 40% and 50% respectively earlier in the week, while Jigsaw, Peacocks and House of Fraser increased their price cuts to 50%, matching Debenhams and Oasis. The online fashion retailer Boohoo was offering 80% off.

By Sarah Butler

Best Top 10 Hotels To Spend Christmas

Source Alux

In this video we'll try to answer the following questions: • Where should I spend Christmas?! • Where is the best place to spend Christmas?! • What are the best hotels to spend Christmas at?! • Which are the top hotels for a holiday choice?! • Where should I spend Christmas?!