Retail news round-up: Tesco in pricing row with Unilever, Amazon launches paid music service and former Sainsbury's boss warns on price hikes

Tesco in row with Unilever over price increases

Tesco is facing shortage of stocks of a range of household brands from Marmite to Comfort fabric conditioner after being locked in a dispute with its major supplier Unilever, the Guardian reports.

It is thought that the consumer good company has ceased deliveries to the grocer after a row over the price.

Unilever has been attempting to hike prices across a broad array of goods by about 10%, blaming the falling value of the pound against the euro and the dollar.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We are experiencing availability issues on a number of Unilever products. We always work to ensure customers get the best possible prices and we hope to have this issue resolved soon.”

Ex-Sainsbury’s boss Justin King warns shoppers on price rises after slump in pound

Former Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King has warned UK shoppers about a probable price increases in the wake of a steep plunge in the pound since the Brexit vote, the Guardian reports.

King, who stepped down as the retailer’s boss in July 2014, said supermarkets would be unable to absorb the recent rise in the cost of importing goods caused by the declining value of the pound against the dollar and euro.

Instead, he added, they would soon pass on the costs to consumers in the form of higher prices.

King, who is now a vice-chairman of private equity firm Terra Firma, said: “Retailers’ margins are already squeezed. So there is no room to absorb input price pressures and costs will need to be passed on.

Amazon unveils paid music streaming service in the US

Amazon has launched Music Unlimited, a paid music streaming service in the US, in a move to take on rivals Spotify and Apple Music, Sky News reports.

The service, which will cost $3.99 (£3.25) a month for owners of its Amazon Echo speaker, $7.99 (£6.52) a month for Amazon Prime members and $9.99 (£8.20) for non-members, will have access to tens of millions of songs.

The online retailer is likely to roll out Amazon Music Unlimited in the UK, Germany and Australia later this year, although a definite timeline is yet to be released.

Amazon Music vice president Steve Boom said: "The first phase of growth (in music streaming) was driven almost entirely by smartphones. We believe pretty strongly that the next phase of growth in streaming is going to come from the home."

UK shop vacancy rate expands to 12.4% in September

The number of empty shops in the UK had leapt to 12.4% in September, reinforcing vacancy levels that are more than twice as high as they were before the recession, The Times reports.

Store openings and re-lettings last month slumped 26% compared with the same time last year, according to fresh figures from The Local Data Company (LDC).

Some towns were suffering from “persistent vacancy”, noting that 11,985 stores, or 4.4%, of all town centre shops had been vacant for more than three years, the data provider revealed.

Although the northeast recorded the largest decline in its vacancy rate, which dropped by 2.7% in September, it suffers the highest rate of persistent vacancy at 7.3%.

LDC director Matthew Hopkinson said: “Vacancy had been falling gently but consistently since 2013, but the improvement has been on pause since May. This could be a signal that businesses have been hesitating when making investment decisions.”