Retail news round-up on December 29, 2014: Tesco tests discount format; Asos hit by technical glitch; Big Four supermarkets to be hit by business rates; Nearly £3bn spent in Boxing Day Sales, and more.

Retail Week's Breakfast Briefing

Tesco tests discount format in One Stop chain

Britain’s biggest grocer Tesco is trialling a discount format in its One Stop chain, in a move that suggests the retailer is seeking news ways to take on the hard discounters Lidl and Aldi, The Times reported. The test is understood to be the brainchild of One Stop’s boss, Tony Reed. Work started before the arrival of Dave Lewis as group chief executive, and has progressed without supervision from the Tesco board, according to people close to the company.

Asos hit by technical glitch

Asos has become the latest retailer to suffer a technical failure of its website and mobile apps and was unable to manage orders for several hours as a result of the crash, The Telegraph reported. On one of the busiest days for online shopping after Christmas, the fashion chain struggled to cope and for hours left would-be customers in the dark as it failed to provide information about the problems via its social media channels. Although the website was open for browsing, and continued to promote Asos’s 50% off Sale, those who tried to buy items were met with a message saying ‘we can’t find that page or something has gone wrong’.

‘Big Four’ hit by huge hike in business rates

The UK’s ‘Big Four’ supermarkets are facing huge disproportionate hikes in business rates that will spell more pain for them next year as sales decline. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons have been hit by an additional bill of more than £110,000 per superstore in 2015-16, representing a 19% surge over the period, according to a new analysis. It means the grocery giants face paying £693,651 more in property tax for each of their bigger stores, while small businesses have seen their bills reduced.

Nearly £3bn spent in Boxing Day Sales

Consumers spent nearly £3bn in the UK’s Boxing Day Sales. Shoppers were planning to spend £2.9bn on the first day of Sales alone, found a survey of consumers by Visitors from China, the Middle East and Nigeria were spending significant amounts of money on luxury items in big department stores.

Fat Face warns of ‘challenging’ trading conditions

British clothing and accessories retailer Fat Face has warned of ‘challenging’ trading conditions in spite of record annual sales, The Scotsman reported. The chain’s revenues surged 12% to £200m in the year to the end of May, driven by store openings. Like-for-likes rose 7.6%, with the outlook for the year ahead to be challenging.

Retail footfall tumbles 4.7% on Boxing Day

The Retail Traffic Index, the barometer of footfall compiled by Ipsos Retail Performance, slumped 4.7% year-on-year on Boxing Day which falls on December 26. Stores in high streets and retail parks suffered the most, with traffic down 7.1%and 7.2% respectively. Outlet centres saw 4.3% fewer shoppers, while town centre malls and regional shopping centres, such as Bluewater in Kent and Meadowhall in Sheffield, fared the best relatively, with footfall slipping only 1.9% and 2.9% respectively.