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Store footfall in ‘unprecedented’ decline
Poor weather and a squeeze on spending caused a slide in the number of people visiting shops last month. Footfall fell by 3.3% last month according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard. That was lower than the 6% decline in March, but was still an “unprecedented” 4.8% decline over the two-month period. Diane Wehrle, of Springboard, said: “Not since the depths of recession in 2009 has footfall over March and April declined to such a degree.” “Even then the drop was less severe at minus 3.8%.” New data also showed that the town centre vacancy rate rose to 9.2%, with all areas of the UK, except Greater London, reporting an increase.
More workers ask for mental health help
More employees are approaching their managers with concerns around mental health, but most companies fail to offer appropriate training, research suggests. An Institute of Directors poll of 700 managers found four in 10 had been approached by staff with such a concern. That was up from just over a quarter in 2017. However, only 17% of firms offered mental health training for managers.
Brexit: Gove doubts whether No 10 customs plan is ‘deliverable’
Michael Gove has cast doubt on the viability of Theresa May’s proposed customs partnership with the EU after Brexit, telling the BBC it has “flaws”. The environment secretary said there were “significant question marks” about whether the model, described as crazy by Boris Johnson, was deliverable. The PM, whose ministers are considering two customs options, says “compromises” will be needed but she will “deliver”. But Labour said the lack of a decision on the critical issue was “farcical”.
Didi Chuxing to start driverless car tests in California
Chinese ride-hailing group Didi Chuxing has been given the go-ahead to start testing self-driving cars in California, as it looks to catch up with its Silicon Valley rivals’ earlier start in autonomous systems. The move comes at a time when its main US rival Uber has been forced to suspend its driverless car programme across North America, after March’s fatal collision with a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. Didi is now the 53rd company to receive a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California, under the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles regulations. The permit was revealed in an update to the DMV’s website last week. Didi declined to comment further on its plans in the US. Didi opened its first Silicon Valley offices last year, focusing on artificial intelligence and security. The research facility in Mountain View, close to Google’s headquarters, now has about 100 staff.
Donohoe favours carbon tax rise over diesel duty
, the finance minister, has said the government will have to monitor the impact of Brexit before deciding whether to make tax on petrol and diesel equal. The government has been under pressure from the European Union to equalise excise duty on diesel and petrol. The EU has described it as “environmentally unjustifiable” not to do so. In a pre-budget submission paper, Mr Donohoe said he favoured slowly bringing tax on petrol and diesel into line while ensuring it did not affect hauliers too badly. In a note on the submission, Mr Donohoe wrote: “I like the approach of suggesting a path to equalisation of diesel and combining that with signalling of a diesel rebate scheme for haulage.
Motorists still defying law over disabled parking bays
More than 1,000 motorists were fined or clamped for illegally parking in disabled parking bays in Dublin last year. Figures from the four Dublin councils show that 1,271 people were penalised for parking in a disabled parking spot without the relevant permit. The highest number of offenders were recorded in Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown, where 495 motorists were fined, yielding €30,360 in revenue. In Dublin city, 406 people had their vehicles immobilised last year for parking without displaying a valid disabled badge. The council’s Operation Enable initiative, which it launched with the Irish Wheelchair Association and the gardai, has helped raise awareness of the issue.
Skill shortages drive fastest wage growth for three years
Wages are rising at their fastest rate in three years as a strong jobs market and growing skills shortages force employers to improve pay. Average wages rose by 2.9pc in the 12 months to March, economists expect the Office for National Statistics to reveal tomorrow. This would represent an acceleration from 2.8pc in February, and comes at a time of falling inflation. Price rises slowed to 2.5pc in March, so a 2.9pc increase in regular pay – which excludes bonuses – would mean the typical worker’s standard of living is on the up for a second consecutive month. By comparison, real wages fell for a year before February. Rising pay should bolster the economy overall.