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Equilibrium’s finance and investment news roundup

Our roundup this week includes a rise in the number of UK adults who own a second home, a jump in credit and debit card use among consumers, a slight increase to consumer spending in June and an upturn in the number of people visiting the UK from overseas.

One in 10 UK adults owns second home

As many as one in 10, or 5.2 million, UK adults have bought or inherited a second home, new research from the Resolution Foundation has revealed. According to the data, the number of people who own multiple homes increased by 30% between 2002 and 2014, with baby-boomers - those aged between 52 and 71 - living in the south of England the most likely to own a second home.

The data also pointed to an increasing gap between the number of people with substantial property wealth and those who do not own a property. The figures revealed that four in 10 adults own no property at all, with this figure rising markedly over the 12-year research period.

Laura Gardiner, Senior Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Contrary to the popular narrative, these second-home owners are rarely your typical middle-income worker shoring up savings, or ordinary retirees boosting pension income.

“They tend to be baby boomers who are very wealthy indeed relative to their peers, living in the south and east of England.”

Debit and credit card use rising among consumers

The use of debit and credit cards among UK consumers increased in the spring and early summer of 2017, new research has shown. Figures from UK Finance pointed to a 12% rise in transactions in the year to the end of June, representing the highest annual rate since 2008.

According to the data, the value of spending also rose by 7.2% during the same period, and 77 million more purchases were made on cards during the second quarter of the year than in the first three months of 2017. Some of the increases can be explained by the rising cost of living, with the inflation rate having risen over the same period.

However, the Bank of England has consistently expressed the need for vigilance over growth in the consumer credit market during “benign” economic conditions, particularly when household income has remained relatively stagnant. There is also continuing concern from debt charities about personal debt levels, and whether increasing card spending is likely to create repayment issues further down the line.

UK retail sales increase in July

Retail sales in the UK increased in July, as a rise in spending on food made up for declines to the purchase of other goods. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the volume of sales advanced by 0.3% compared with June, as the volume of food sales rose by 1.5% after falling by 1.1% in June.

According to the ONS, volume sales fell in all other areas apart from household goods, as the figure for June’s retail sales growth was revised down from 0.6% to 0.3%.

Ole Black, Senior Statistician at the ONS, said that overall there is a “relatively subdued picture” in retail sales. He added: “Whilst the overall growth is the same as in June, trends in growth in different sectors are proving quite volatile.”

UK visits up as pound falls

The number of people visiting the UK from overseas increased by 7% in June compared to the same month last year, as the weak pound makes it more affordable for visitors. Data from the ONS revealed that 3.5 million people flocked to the country in June, spending £2.2 billion.

Figures from the ONS pointed to a 34% surge in the number of visitors coming from North America, rising to 483,000, while the number of visitors from Europe jumped by 2% to 2.2 million.

Meanwhile, UK residents took a record number of trips abroad in June, with the figure rising 4% to 7.2 million. The fall in the value of the pound put British tourists at a disadvantage, with the amount they spent increasing by 15% to £4.6 billion

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