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Equilibrium's finance and investment news roundup

In our roundup this week, we report on a dip in UK retail spending in August, as well as indications that the UK economy could be rebounding following the Brexit vote. We also look at a study suggesting women are just as likely as men to ask for a pay rise and figures showing a continuing climb in complaints regarding payday loans.


BRC: UK retail spending dipped in August

UK retail spending experienced a dip in August following a significant increase the month before, new figures have shown. According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), spending dropped by 0.3% in comparison with August 2015 and tumbled markedly from the 1.9% jump in July this year.

The BRC suggested the hot weather deterred shoppers from hitting the high street as they reined in spending following a surprise increase in shopping activity in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, warned against reading too much into the dip in August in relation to the impact being felt following Britain's decision to leave the European Union. She said: "The fact is that, so far, little has directly changed for the UK's consumers as a result of the referendum." 

UK economy bouncing back post-Brexit?

The UK economy could be showing signs of bouncing back from June's Brexit vote, a new survey from IHS Markit has indicated. Figures released by the data firm pointed to a record increase for Britain's services industry in August, which followed similar results for the manufacturing and construction sectors last week. However, there were also warnings of a further Bank of England rate cut and a more sizeable slowdown in growth on the horizon.

Although the UK is now unlikely to enter a recession during the period of July to September - as had been predicted by some - the economy is expected to increase by only 0.1% for the period, which is significantly lower than the 0.6% recorded for the second quarter of the year.

Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit, commented: "Many companies remain worried about the outlook and how the economy will fare in the event of Brexit, suggesting that political and economic uncertainty is likely to prevail in coming months, subduing growth." 

Women 'as likely as men' to ask for a pay rise

Female employees are just as likely as their male colleagues to ask for a pay rise. This is according to a new study from the Cass Business School and the universities of Warwick and Wisconsin, which found that while women are as willing as men to request more money, they are less likely to receive it.

The findings appear to disprove the theory that women are not sufficiently pushy in the workplace when it comes to asking for more, with the study finding "no support" for any suggestions that women avoid approaching their employers for a raise.

Andrew Oswald, Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science at the University of Warwick, said: "The fact that women don't ask for pay rises as often as men is a popular theory. It's a very common thing for women to say and believe, but all of the evidence is anecdotal, so it's very hard scientifically to do a proper test of this." 

Payday loan complaints continue to climb

The number of complaints made in relation to payday loans is continuing to increase, new figures from the Financial Ombudsman have shown. The ombudsman revealed that complaints about payday lenders more than tripled to reach 4,186 in the first half of the year compared with the six months previous, citing borrowers becoming more aware of their rights as the main reason for this.

Despite the claim, It was shown that the main financial product gripe still concerns the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI). In the six months to June there were 91,381 PPI complaints, which comprised more than half (54%) of new cases brought to the ombudsman.