British shop prices down in September, BrightHouse says affordability checks hurting business model, and Amazon’s e-book case

Shop price deflation slows in September

UK shop prices dropped 1.8% year-on-year in September, with a record fall in the cost of food.

The decline in prices slowed last month, but there was little sign of price rises on the back of sterling’s plunge since June’s Brexit vote, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Food prices slipped by 1.3% on a year earlier, recording the biggest decrease since the survey started nearly a decade ago.

This came in spite of global commodity prices posting their sharpest growth since September 2011.

“Fierce competition is playing a vital role in keeping prices down,” the BRC said. “Despite rising global food prices and the devaluation of the exchange rate, shop prices are still showing little sign of nearing inflationary territory.”

“The low levels of shop price deflation we have witnessed over the last few years will not be around for much longer, and we expect shop price deflation to be closer to zero at the turn of the year,” it added.

BrightHouse’s detailed affordability checks ’hitting profits’

Rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse has revealed that conducting more rigorous affordability checks on potential customers is hurting its business model, The Guardian reported.

The company, which allows shoppers pay for goods in weekly instalments with annual interest rates of up to 99.9%, said that more detailed checks on customers’ finances were having a material impact on the number of consumers signing contracts.

“We have made changes to our customer sign-up process to include a more detailed assessment of income and expenditure,” said BrightHouse’s chairman Henry Staunton in accounts filed at Companies House.

“This is proving to be onerous and time consuming for our customers and colleagues. These changes are having a material impact on the level of customer sign-ups and consequently on profit as we enter the new financial year.”

Amazon eyes e-book case settlement with EU

Etailer Amazon is in settlement talks with European Union antitrust regulators over the latter’s year-long probe into its e-book contracts with publishers, Reuters reported.

“Amazon is in talks to settle the e-book case but it is too early to say whether it will reach an agreement,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Under the EU’s settlement rules, the online retailer would not have to pay any fine or, if found guilty of any wrongdoing, it can offer concessions to allay regulatory concerns.