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Warm weather lifts retail sales in July
Warmer weather and a weaker pound helped boost retail sales in July, according to official data. Retail sales grew by 5.9% compared with July 2015, the Office for National Statistics said. “Better weather this year could be a major factor, with sales of clothing and footwear doing particularly well,” said Joe Grice of the ONS. He added that there was anecdotal evidence suggesting the weaker pound encouraged overseas visitors to spend. Sales of watches and jewellery were up 16.6% in July compared with the same month last year – the biggest jump in nearly two years. Compared with June, UK retail sales were up 1.4%, a figure that was much stronger than expected.
Dealer says growth in new car sales has ground to a halt
Growth in new car sales across the UK has ground to a halt following the EU referendum vote and will not pick up for the rest of the year, according to a leading dealer group. Lookers, one of the UK’s largest networks with 150 franchised dealerships, said it had sold just 20 more new cars in the weeks since the vote on June 23, compared with a year earlier. This contrasts with the first six months of the year, when its turnover of new cars rose by 12 per cent. Chief executive Andy Bruce said car manufacturers have also told him they expect to see no growth in the new car market for the duration of the year.
Scrapping paper car tax discs cost £400m in revenue in first year
The decision to scrap paper tax discs from British cars cost the government more than £400m in its first year of the experiment in moving bureaucracy online. Vehicle tax revenue figures obtained by the Financial Times with a freedom of information request show tax revenues fell following the abolition of the 93-year-old paper tax disc system in October 2014. The overhaul, which cost £1m, was intended to save £10m in administrative costs. In the 12 months that followed the move, from October 2014 to September 2015, the DVLA collected £5.71bn in vehicle excise duty, some £412m lower than in the previous 12 months.
Whiplash claims bump up car insurance costs
At least £64 has been added to car insurance premiums over the past year, it emerged yesterday, with warnings that prices will soar further in the autumn when new tax rises are imposed. Researchers found that the average bill increased by 14 per cent between April and June this year compared with the same period in 2015. Overall, this suggests that the price paid for comprehensive cover rose from £448 to £512 in 12 months. Some areas charges increased by at least 21 per cent, figures show.
Driverless taxis hailed as next big thing in transport
Self-driving Ford cars without steering wheels or pedals will roll on to the roads by 2021, the carmaker has said. The vehicles will form a fleet of taxis that can be hailed with a smartphone app, ferrying passengers to their destinations — like Uber cars, but without drivers. Several car manufacturers and technology companies have stated their intention to produce fleets of self-driving taxis. Some believe that “mobility services” such as these will replace car ownership, which is inefficient because the vehicles remain dormant for most of their lives.
Female friendly garage offers manicures with mots for women drivers
MOTS and manicures are being offered at a car repair centre in a bid to make women feel more “comfortable” at a garage. Carterton Auto Repair in Carterton, Oxfordshire, has been praised by women-only car group Foxy Lady Drivers Club for their new offer, saying it might be “the first of its kind in the UK”.
Sarah Scott Stovold of Carterton Auto Repair said that the company, located in Belle Terrace, believed that more needed to be done make women feel more confident with their cars. She said: “As a female I can appreciate how scary it can be walking in to a garage or body shop if you aren’t knowledgeable on cars and finding a garage that won’t rip you off can sometimes be tricky. “We have come up with a few ideas to make females more interested in bringing their cars in for an MOT and making the business more female friendly.” As well as manicures, women can also enjoy a massage while their car is MOTd at the centre, thanks to local firm Simply Beauty.
Brexit just a ‘bump in the road’ for car dealer Lookers
Lookers has become the latest car dealer group to report surging profits and revenues at the half-year stage, shrugging off concerns that Brexit will put the brakes on car sales. The FTSE 250 group said revenues rose by a third to £2.3bn and pre-tax profits were up by almost a fifth at £46.7m in the six months to the end of June.
In what chief executive Andy Bruce called a “signal of confidence in our future”, the dividend also rose by 20pc to 1.28p a share. The EU referendum on June 23 has done little to knock the market, according to the chief executive.
Ford to build ‘high volume’ of driverless cars for ride-sharing services
The robot car wars moved up a gear on Tuesday when Ford announced it would produce a fleet of driverless cars for ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, by 2021.
Mark Fields, Ford’s president and chief executive, said the next decade would be “defined by automation of the automobile” and the switch to driverless travel would affect society as much as the introduction of the assembly line, allowing mass-produced cars, did a century ago.
“We’re dedicated to putting on the road an autonomous vehicle that can improve safety and solve social and environmental challenges for millions of people – not just those who can afford luxury vehicles,” he said in a speech to workers in Silicon Valley.