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man putting wedding ring on womans finger

This week’s roundup includes news that this weekend’s royal wedding will have a ‘limited’ benefit to the economy, store footfall is in ‘unprecedented’ decline and the UK’s potholes now account for £1m in claims a month.

Royal wedding sales lift to be 'limited'

Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle may have bells ringing, but it won't keep UK tills ringing, an economic forecasting group has found.

The overall benefits to the UK economy from the nuptials will be ‘limited’, according to the EY ITEM Club.

It predicts tourism and retail businesses as the most likely to benefit from the occasion next weekend.

A Saturday ceremony means fewer workers may be distracted on the job, leaving productivity largely unchanged.

However, the EY ITEM Club suggested that some celebrating the royal marriage will simply bring forward spending in shops, pubs and supermarkets or switch from spending on other items.

Howard Archer, Chief Economic Advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said: ‘The retail sector will benefit from people buying royal wedding souvenirs, such as plates, cups and magazines’.

Store footfall in 'unprecedented' decline

Footfall fell by 3.3% last month according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), due to poor weather and a squeeze on spending.

That was lower than the 6% decline in March but was still an ‘unprecedented’ 4.8% decline over the two-month period.

Diane Wehrle, of retail research group Springboard, said: ‘Not since the depths of recession in 2009 has footfall over March and April declined to such a degree. Even then the drop was less severe at minus 3.8%.’

New data also showed that the town centre vacancy rate rose to 9.2%, with all areas of the UK, except Greater London, reporting an increase.

There were 4,083 new store openings in 2017, the lowest since 2010, but 5,855 outlets closed, meaning a total of 1,772 shops disappeared, according to the Local Data Company.

British Gas owner Centrica loses another 110,000 accounts

British Gas owner Centrica lost 110,000 energy supply accounts in the first four months of the year.

That is roughly equivalent to 70,000 customers, as many households buy their gas and electricity from British Gas, so will have two accounts. The company has almost 13 million energy supply accounts in the UK.

Centrica said there had been ‘high levels of competitive intensity’ but said the rate at which it has been losing customers had been slowing.

Many of those used more energy during the spell of extreme cold weather earlier this year, which was branded the Beast from the East. Centrica said it had seen ‘increased energy demand’ during that period.

In April, British Gas announced a 5.5% increase in both gas and electricity bills. The firm blamed the rising wholesale price of energy and the cost of meeting emissions targets and introducing smart meters.

Pothole 'epidemic' costs £1m a month in motoring claims, says AA

Drivers and insurers are losing £1m a month repairing damage to vehicles caused by potholes, according to the AA.

The motorists' organisation says the number of claims for the first four months of 2018 already equal those for the whole of last year.

The Department for Transport said it was spending £23bn on England's roads to improve journeys, which included a pothole action fund.

Based on its share of the car insurance market, the AA has extrapolated that there have been 4,200 such claims this year across the UK.

The AA's Director of Insurance Janet Connor said: ‘In most cases the damage caused by a pothole - a ruined tyre or even two tyres and perhaps a wheel rim - doesn't justify making an insurance claim given that it is likely to lead to the loss of your excess and no-claim bonus. So, the claims we are seeing are clearly much worse than that.

‘Our nation's highways have become a national embarrassment.’