Animal cruelty remains the top reason for consumers in the US, UK and Germany to ‘cancel’ a company through boycotts or protests. Worker mistreatment and fraud are also high on the list with almost 20% of consumers claiming to have boycotted a brand for ethical reasons.
The gradual unlocking of the economy has seen the UK retail sector experience its strongest ever quarter on record, growing 10.4% in the three months to the end of June compared with the same period in 2019.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) – the trade body that represents retailers – noted UK retail sales increased 17% on a like-for-like basis from June 2019, with online sales also helping to drive the increased growth rate.
The BRC said that in June non-food sales were bolstered by growing consumer confidence and the continued unleashing of consumer demand. It added that fashion and footwear did well when the sun was shining in the UK in the first half of June, while the start of the Euro 2020 football competition provided a boost for TVs, snack food and beer.
However, it warned many retailers are still making up lost ground from the lockdowns, while city centre retailers continue to suffer low footfall as commuters and tourist numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels.
On Tuesday (13 Jul), the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), part of the Bank of England, confirmed it was removing its ‘guardrails’ on shareholder distributions by banks with immediate effect.
In March 2020 the UK’s largest lenders suspended an estimated £8bn of dividends and buybacks on ordinary shares at the PRA’s behest. In December, the restraints were eased slightly, with the PRA issuing a set of ‘temporary guardrails’ to ensure any distributions made at a board’s discretion were ‘prudent’, with a further review promised in 2021.
Now, drawing on the interim results of the 2021 solvency stress tests alongside developments in the economic outlook, including the evolution of the covid pandemic and vaccination programmes and banks’ capital positions and trajectories, it has determined the guardrails “are no longer necessary”.
However, it added that banks needed to exercise “an appropriate degree of caution around the level of any shareholder distributions.”