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Equilibrium's finance and investment news roundup

In our roundup this week we report on new research identifying Brits as the biggest online spenders, a 7% shares drop for Whitbread, the owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, a rise in car insurance premiums over the past year and a survey suggesting that most Scots do not want a second independence referendum.


UK shoppers 'the biggest spenders online'

Shoppers in the UK are the world's biggest online spenders, a new report has revealed. According to the UK Cards Association, the equivalent of $5,900 (£4,611) was spent using payment cards online by UK households in 2015.

This was greater than that spent by households in Norway, ($5,400), the US ($4,500) and Australia ($4,000), while the data also revealed that a total of £154 billion was spent by online shoppers in the UK in 2016, representing a 28% increase on 2014's figures.

Richard Koch, Head of Policy at the UK Cards Association, said: "The internet enables millions of people to access services around the clock from wherever they are based. Payment cards have driven this revolution, providing an easy and secure way to shop online." 

7% shares drop for Costa Coffee owner Whitbread

Shares in Whitbread, the company behind Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, fell by 7% on Tuesday after it predicted a deterioration in the consumer environment this year.

The dip wiped more than half a billion pounds off Whitbread's market value. The company reported a 0.8% dip in like-for-like sales at Costa Coffee and a 0.7% reduction in its restaurant business, which includes brands such as Beefeater and Brewers Fayre. 

Whitbread said it is turning more cautious as it moves forward, with many consumers limiting their spending due to rising inflation and slow wage growth following Britain's vote to leave the European Union (EU) last year. 

Average car insurance premiums 'climbed 8% last year'

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has revealed that average car insurance premiums climbed 8% over the past year, reaching £462.

Higher repair bills, whiplash claims and rises in insurance premium tax were cited as main reasons for the £34 increase, which has taken average premiums to their highest level since the ABI started recording the figures five years ago.

The ABI added: "The change to the way in which compensation for serious personal injuries is calculated - the discount rate - will lead to massive additional costs for insurers." 

Kantar survey: Most Scots don't want second independence vote

A new survey conducted by Kantar has suggested the majority of Scottish voters do not want a second referendum on independence from the United Kingdom.

The issue has come to the fore following Britain's decision to leave the EU last June - a vote in which the majority of Scottish people voted to remain. The Scottish National Party has argued that the country should now be given a second opportunity to decide on whether it should be a part of the UK.

However, the research from Kantar revealed that only 26% of those questioned believe an independence vote should be held in either autumn 2018 or spring 2019, 18% think it should be held at a later date and 46% do not want a referendum at all.


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