Retail news round-up on November 20, 2015: Local councils pay out £3bn in rates relief and deadly superbug in 80% of chickens from supermarkets.

More than £3bn paid out in business rate relief last year

Local councils have hiked the discount level to businesses by £221m last year, primarily due to a significant rise in the amount given to charity shops.

Councils have handed out £3bn in business rate relief, according to the latest figures from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

The total discretionary relief granted to charity shops amounts to 45% of the £3bn discount total.

“I'm pleased to see councils are taking steps to offer the support businesses need to grow and flourish, with over £3bn paid out in business rate relief in the last year”, said communities secretary Greg Clark.

Almost 15% of fresh supermarket chickens high in campylobacter

The UK’s food safety watchdog has said 80% of chickens bought from grocers Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's have been tested positive for the deadly superbug campylobacter.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) tested 1,032 samples in July, August and September and found some presence of campylobacter in 76%, compared with 83% of samples in the same period of 2014.

It also found that 15% of samples showed the traces of bacteria at this benchmark, with about 6% of packaging being contaminated.

Morrisons topped the chart for overall level of chickens containing the bug at 86.2%, followed by M&S at 82.7% and Sainsbury's at 80.4%.

The Co-operative and Waitrose made the most significant reductions in high-level contamination with no more than 7% of chickens with the highest levels of contamination.

Weekly sales at John Lewis rises 1.5%

Department store group John Lewis reported 1.5% year-on-year increase in its weekly sales.

Overall fashion sales inched up 0.8%, with unseasonably mild weather influencing sales of cold weather lines and outerwear.

The retailer’s homeware sales rose 2.8% in the week to November 14, while sales in the electrical and home technology (EHT) department surged 1.6% during the period.