Retail news round-up: Amazon prohibits incentivised reviews, consumer spending slows, and Sephora to postpone Iranian store openings

Amazon bans incentivised reviews is prohibiting incentivised reviews, made in exchange for free or discounted products, in order to strengthen consumer confidence in its rating system, The Seattle Times reported.

Brand owners and sellers have been using the reviews to promote their products.

Chee Chew, Amazon’s vice president of customer experience, stated that the practice will no longer be accepted, unless executed through the Amazon Vine program. The program will only allow Amazon to choose the reviewer and not the third-party merchant of a product.

The etailer said it neither rewards positive star ratings, nor attempts to influence a review’s content.

Consumer spending power slowed in August

UK families had £201 in discretionary income to spend in August, marking the 22nd consecutive month of double-digit growth in pound terms.

Households benefited from an extra £10 per week compared with the same period last year, according to the Asda Income Tracker.

Disposable income has remained largely flat for the past five months.

Shoppers’ spending power is not growing as quickly as seen previously due to increasing input costs, slowing wage growth, higher transport costs and a rise in food prices.

Essential item inflation has stayed at near-zero levels, while Consumer Price Inflation is holding steady at 0.6%.

An Asda spokesperson said: “This month’s report is a mixed one for families. On the one hand it’s encouraging that we continue to see a rise in spending power, courtesy of low levels of essential item inflation, and cuts to interest rates. However, on the other hand, there are some trends beginning to emerge that consumers should be mindful of.”

Sephora poised to postpone Iranian store openings

French cosmetics retailer Sephora is to defer its plans to open a number of retail shops in Iran to the end of next year.

The move comes as the "right" financial and political conditions are not yet in place, sources have revealed.

"Nothing will happen until the second half of 2017 at the earliest because conditions are not yet in place for things to happen," one of the sources close to the matter told Reuters.