Cost of living - latest: Amazon sellers fear 'bankruptcy' as marketplace withholds cash; major lenders slash mortgage deals (2023)

Key points
  • More major lenders poised to reduce mortgage rates
  • Ozzy Osbourne gaming ad banned
  • 'Cost of living crisis coming to end' as inflation forecast to fall behind wage growth
  • Analysis:Could deflation in China bring UK prices down?
  • Heading school uniform shopping? Here are some deals to look out for
  • Use our spending calculator to see which prices have gone up or down
  • Live reporting by Ollie Cooper and (earlier)Brad Young


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More misery for holidaymakers as fresh wave of Gatwick strikes announced

Holidaymakers are set for more misery as they face "severe disruption" at Gatwick Airport this month after ground staff announced a new series of strikes.

More than 230 workers, who work for two contracted firms at the London airport, will walk out on multiple dates later in August because of a dispute over pay, the union said.

Read more from our business reporter Daniel Binns, who has the full story here:


Amazon sellers fear 'bankruptcy' as marketplace withholds cash

By Brad Young, live reporter

Amazon sellers have complained the company is withholding their money and could force them to go bust.

The online marketplace has extended to all European sellers a policy not to pay them until seven days after the delivery of their products, to ensure they have funds for returns or customer claims.

Vendors registered before 2016 - approximately 15% of total UK and European traders - were not subject to the policy until 3 August, and some of them say the change is a threat to their businesses.

Marios Katz, 46, from Cyprus, who sells CDs and vinyl to the UK, said Amazon is holding £5,000 of his earnings.

"Amazon will lead us into bankruptcy for all the small businesses [and] companies," Mr Katz told Sky News.

He said his bills, employees, postage and couriers will go unpaid.

"We will not be able to pay our supplier for the products we buy and sell on Amazon. This is unacceptable."

The financial website This is Money estimates 33,750 of the 225,000 firms in Europe could be impacted by the change.

Hundreds of complaints have been posted on the Amazon Sellers forum by those who have had their money withheld, reported the BBC.

The Treasury was aware of the matter, the broadcaster said, citing the office of Conservative MP for Bracknell James Sunderland.

Amazon told Sky News the policy was first introduced in August 2016, already applied to 85% of sellers, and that the remainder were given three months' notice.

A spokesperson said: "This process will standardise this policy for European sellers to ensure they have sufficient funds to cover any financial obligations, like product returns or customer claims.

"This change does not impact the vast majority of selling partners."


In pictures: 100 days since latest Hollywood writers strike began

On the subject of strikes and rallies - today marks 100 days since the latest Hollywood writers strike began.

The strike officially began on 2 May - when negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and major studios reached an impasse over compensation, minimum staffing of writers' rooms and residual payments in the streaming era, among other issues.

Since then, actors, writers and many others involved in the film industry have joined picket lines and boycotted events.

We've collated a number of photographs to mark 100 days since the beginning of the historic strike:


RMT boss Mick Lynch joins 'hundreds' at ticket office rally in Cornwall

"Hundreds" of people have turned up to a rally protesting against the closure of railway ticket offices in Penzance today - with head of prominent union RMT Mick Lynch in attendance.

The rally had support of the local council, which voted unanimously last month to support the retention of existing staff at the ticket office at Penzance station - and objects to the proposed ticket office closure.

"The staffed ticket office at Penzance Train Station provides an invaluable service to residents and visitors alike, and closing the ticket office windows would disproportionately affect the more vulnerable in our community, especially the digitally excluded," the council said.

More than 1,000 ticket offices, nearly all that remain in Britain, are set to be shut down over the next three years, according to plans confirmed by the government last month - with estimates that more than 2,000 jobs will be affected.

Those who joined the rally estimated on social media that more than 200 people had attended.

There was no sign, however, of the local MP - Conservative Derek Thomas, who represents West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly - much to the annoyance of attendees.


Best deals at Iceland as cost of living crisis tightens margins for families

We brought you yesterday that supermarket giant Iceland has cut a further 200 prices on some of its top-selling items in a bid to attract shoppers to turn to its shelves during the cost of living crisis.

On addition, a range of bundle deals have been announced - here are the best ones to keep an eye on throughout the summer:

3 for £3 deal

This deal focuses mainly on morning goods, but bargains include:

  • Warburtons toastie soft thick white 800g
  • John West mackerel fillets in sunflower oil
  • Sunny D tangy florida citrus fusion 1L

3 for £5 deal

A mix of products from across the store - including groceries, frozen and home goods, including:

  • Bisto gravy granules 190g
  • Richmond 6 thick pork sausages 308g
  • Iceland 25 chicken goujons
  • Diet Coke 2L

3 for £10 deal

Great bargains on, but not limited to, meat and fish in particular here:

  • Greggs sausage rolls, 4 pack
  • MyProtein chicken tikka with rice 350g
  • Slimming World beef lasagne 550g

In addition, there are over 500 now-discounted lines in the store, including:

  • Youngs fish fingers 15pk -was £3.50, now £2.00
  • Nescafe coffee 200g - was £6.50, now £4.50
  • Kellogg’s variety cereal 8pk - was £3.50, now £1.75
  • Iceland minced beef and onion 650g - was £4.00, now £3.50
  • Tetley Plus 50% free 240 pack of tea bags - was £5.75 now £4.00
  • Iceland Atlantic cod fillets 320g - was £5 now £3.50


HSBC becomes latest lender to cut mortgage rates and raise savings returns

Earlier today we reported how HSBC was gearing up to cut their fixed mortgage rates, joining Nationwide and TSB.

The bank has told Sky News that reductions of up to 0.35% will be available.

Interest rates on savings will also increase by 0.25% from tomorrow, HSBC said.

"It's important that customers regularly review their accounts as their finances or financial goals may have changed significantly in recent years, and there may be better accounts or better rates now available to them," said Pella Frost, HSBC UK’s head of everyday banking.

Headline mortgage rate changes

  • Remortgage: Five-year fixed rate at 60% LTV now at 5.49%, reduced by 0.15% (with £999 fee).
  • Home buyer and first-time buyer: two-year fixed at 60% LTV, now at 5.94%, reduced by 0.20%, with £250 cashback (with £999 fee).
  • First-time buyer: Five-year fixed rate with no fee at 85% LTV, now at 5.64%, reduced by 0.20%, with £500 cashback.

And savings

  • Instant access savings accounts: 0.25% increase to 2.25% on premier savings and 2.00% on the flexible saver.
  • Online bonus saver rate: Up 0.25% when a withdrawal is made in a month, with a new rate of 2.00%. Balances over £50k have an interest rate of 2.30%.
  • Mysavings childrens' account: Increase of 0.25% up to 2.25% for balances over £3,000. Balances under £3,000 have a rate of 5.00%.


Could deflation in China bring down prices in UK?

By Gurpreet Narwan, business correspondent

Deflation in China should help to bring down some global prices because the country is a major exporter.

China is Britain's largest import partner - we imported £63.6bn of goods from China in 2021 (13.3% of all goods imported to the UK). So cheaper Chinese goods should, in theory, help keep inflation in check.

However, it is important not to overstate any potential benefits. The inflation rate in the UK is running at 7.9%, almost four times the Bank of England's 2% target.

The items that Britain imports from China are not at the heart of our inflation woes. A slump in the price of electronics or furniture will only have a marginal impact on the overall price level in the UK.

High food prices and an energy shock that is still feeding its way through the economy are our main concerns.

Structural problems, such as our tight labour market, are also pushing up wages, which is having a knock-on effect on prices. Deflation in China won't help with this.

At £27.5 billion, machinery and transport equipment dominate Britain's imports from China. This largely relates to office machinery and telecoms and sound equipment.

"These are segments that people are already pulling back from. Consumers loaded up on gadgets while working from home during the pandemic and are now pulling back. An additional fall in the price of a laptop isn't going to make a huge difference to inflation in the UK," said Duncan Wrigley, chief China economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Across developed nations, economists believe the impact of deflation could be limited as imports from China make up a relatively small share of consumer spending in these countries.

It could also trigger wider issues. While falling prices may sound like a good thing to consumers, they pose a headache for policymakers if deflation becomes entrenched.

This is because a prolonged period of deflation could incentivise consumers to put off spending (in the expectation that prices may fall further) and businesses to deter their investment plans. This is bad news for economic growth, both in China and globally.

China is a major exporter but the country's consumers are playing an increasingly important role on the global stage, especially in markets such as luxury fashion.

A slowdown in China could hurt exporters in other parts of the world. China is Britain's sixth-largest export partner for goods. We exported £18.8bn of goods (5.8% of all goods exports from the UK).


Deflation in China could 'take the edge off' UK inflation

Slight deflation in China could "take the edge off" inflation in the UK, according to an economist at Oxford University.

Chinese prices fell by 0.3% last month compared with a year before and, as the world's biggest exporter of manufactured goods, this could reduce the costs of imports in the UK, said Linda Yueh.

If deflation became entrenched and China "really slows" that would create "a whole host of other issues" - but that doesn't look to be the case, she said.

"Take a close look at the Consumer Price Index basket before drawing too many conclusions about Chinese inflation or deflation," she said, explaining that food makes up 31% of China's inflation measures.

If you removed falling pork prices alone from the CPI, China would be experiencing inflation, said the economist.

"That suggests there's not a huge amount to be concerned about because China has had regular periods of deflation."

For context: The term "deflation" shouldn't be officially used until prices have fallen for three months in a row, which has not yet occurred, but the -0.3% figures fuelled some fears that is where things are headed,


Falling prices in China might just be bad for everyone

By Helen-Ann Smith, Asia correspondent

While so many countries have spent the last year grappling with stubborn inflation, China is facing the opposite problem.

Indeed, in July prices actually fell by 0.3% compared to a year before.

While the term "deflation" shouldn't be officially coined until prices have fallen for three months in a row, there are now real fears that is where things are headed, and it is nonetheless a big moment for the world's second-largest economy.

You might think that falling prices might not be such a bad thing, indeed in the immediacy it can sometimes feel like a brief relief for households.

But deflation is actually a phenomenon that worries governments and central bankers even more than its opposite number, inflation.

Read on here...


Britons spending nearly £200 a year on impulse buys they regret

Britons spend £184 a year on items they regret purchasing, according to a survey.

Shoppers make seven, £150-plus, impulse purchases every 12 months on average, credit provider Vanquis found.

Bikes, footwear, cosmetics, beauty treatments and games consoles/gadgets were among the top most regrettable items.

"At a time when every penny counts, it’s important for consumers to think twice before they buy, to ensure they are getting the most value out of their money," said TV mathematician Bobby Seagull.

To avoid regret, he calculated shoppers should wait at least two days and 21 hours on average between finding an item they want to buy and deciding to spend.

The least regretted purchases include kitchen accessories, washing machines, phones and TVs.

Half of those surveyed said they spend impulsively because they enjoy treating themselves and 31% said they make spontaneous purchases to make themselves feel better.

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