Helen Nugent

Spending, property, pensions and earnings

The switch from traditional spending to online shopping continues to gather pace as new figures show that high street sales fell last month for the fourth year running in favour of internet purchases. The BBC reports that online sales in December were 19 per cent higher than in 2015 while online orders increased in the week to 25 December by 51.1 per cent compared to the same week in the previous year. That’s according to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker, which also found that consumers are splashing out more on home wares but less on fashion. Nevertheless, online sales account for about 15 per cent of all retail spending. Property The Guardian reports that prime London property prices were pushed down in 2016 thanks to higher taxes and concerns about the Brexit vote. Savills says that sellers resigned themselves to more ‘realistic’ offers last year with prices for high-end central London properties falling by by 6.9 per cent compared with last year and 4.9 per cent when including the rest of the capital. Landlords Professional landlords with sizeable portfolios could face higher mortgage rates this year, Thisismoney reports. However, landlords with just a couple of buy-to-lets are likely to enjoy mortgage rate cuts.

According to the website, ‘mortgage broker John Charcol is predicting a buy-to-let mortgage rate war in the so-called ‘vanilla’ end of the market, as a wave of tax and regulation changes cause the big high street lenders to drop rates for smaller scale landlords with lots of equity, who they consider lower risk. But the broker warns that fierce competition for these smaller private landlords isn’t likely to extend to professionals – in fact, landlords with more than three buy-to-lets may even see the rates on offer from high street lenders start to climb.’

Royal Mail pensions

The Times says that trade unions at Royal Mail are threatening the first national strike in eight years.

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