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tv   Business Briefing  BBC News  December 23, 2019 5:30am-5:46am GMT

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this is the business briefing. i'm ben bland. with only a few days left before christmas celebrations begin, we tally up the costs to see where consumers are spending their money. and the supermarket giant tesco halts production at a chinese factory over a claim that prisoners were being forced to work against their will. and on the markets, a mixed picture on global benchmarks — trade thinning out as investors wind down for the christmas break.
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christmas is nearly here and there's still a bit of time left to get last minute gifts before the holiday begins. but how much are we spending on it all? let's take a look. research by the bank of england has found that during the christmas period, a typical uk household spends around £800 on top of its usual spending. so that's around $1050. that figure also happens to be about the same amount spent per person in the us — according to the national retail federation. taken together, americans are expected to spend around $730 billion over the holiday season this year, which is an increase on previous years. in the us, more than half of shoppers — 56% — say they prefer to shop online, with amazon and walmart looking to benefit. meanwhile, there is a similar figure in the uk — 54% — who say they prefer to shop in bricks and mortar stores. toymakers in particular have been looking forward to the festive season. but many firms are wary of what impact global trade tensions
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could have on their businesses. we have had a big effect this year because we have already stocked to the end of the year, but where it would end up hurting us is the beginning of next year, january and february and march are pretty slow times in the toy industry. having those extra costs on top of the already struggling months of the year would be a huge impact for us. our business reporter leisha sa ntorelli joins me now. we heard on that clip from one business, this idea that the christmas spending splurge will help lift the sales that might have been not quite as much as they would have wa nted not quite as much as they would have wanted through the year? that's
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right. the lead up on this past weekend in particular, it is one of the busiest trading periods. we have seen a bleak picture of the past six months of the retail trading landscape. thousands of shops are closed on the uk high streets. we are seeing this happen because of a couple of reasons. people are increasingly shifting towards online shopping rather than going to brick and mortar shops. we have seen the value of the high street for the year since 2015. and of course there are things hanging over consumer sentiment, like brexit. but now that uncertainty has been lifted somewhat by the decisive victory by the conservative party, it seems consumers have more confidence to go out and spend money on this christmas period. some people will look at this and say christmas time puts a huge amount of financial pressure on people and families. you get a situation where they can be a
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danger if people borrow beyond what they can really afford to borrow, while interest rates are low. they are at historically low levels and the danger is that if they then break up, they are left with a problem. that's where personal finance comes in. lots of financial advisors say to set a budget, especially if you are struggling with your finances. 0ne especially if you are struggling with your finances. one of the things we have seen with consumer behaviour, especially given so many yea rs of behaviour, especially given so many years of austerity, is to look for bargains. with the advent of black friday, which is really an american tradition, but arrived on british shores in 2013 and since then consumers have become accustomed to aggressive discounting. that is what we have seen in the lead up to the christmas period. lloyd projects we could see the most aggressive discounting the uk in about ten yea rs, discounting the uk in about ten years, and that by christmas eve, by tomorrow, we could see discounts of up tomorrow, we could see discounts of up to 15% across many of these stores. that is what consumers are 110w stores. that is what consumers are now looking to, they are becoming more savvy with their money, getting more savvy with their money, getting more bang for their buck. 0n the
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other side you have the retailers co nsta ntly other side you have the retailers constantly slashing prices with this aggressive discounting, which will put pressure on their margins. it is a bit likea put pressure on their margins. it is a bit like a race to the bottom, and there has to be a fine balance between the two. thank you very much, andi between the two. thank you very much, and i have to say, what a fabulous christmas jumper, i feel i have the side down. i am getting ready, i have to do some last—minute christmas shopping! glad i am not the only one. nice to see you. let's now take a look at the british supermarket chain tesco, which has suspended production at a factory in china, after allegations of forced labour. that's after a 6—year—old girl from south london found a message inside a christmas card, allegedly written by prisoners in shanghai. the message said "please help us and notify human rights organisations." katie prescott reports. ready? uh-huh. here we go. it was 6—year—old school girl florence widdicombe who'd sat down at home to write christmas cards to her friends and family when she discovered that one of the cards had already been written in. we were writing in them and about on my sixth or eighth card there was... somebody had already written in it.
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there was a message which read: the first thought was it must be some kind of prank, but on reflection we realised it was actually potentially quite a serious thing. and so i felt very shocked but i also felt a responsibility to pass it on to peter humphrey, as the author asked me to do. the family did just that and got in touch with the human rights journalist peter humphrey, who the message in the card suggested they contact. he himself had spent time in the qing pu prison for his part in an alleged corruption scandal. i spent two years in captivity in shanghai between 2013 and 2015, and my final nine months of that captivity was in this very prison in this very cell block where this
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message has come from, and these prisoners are living a very bleak daily life. there are 12 prisoners per cell. they sleep in very rusty iron bunk beds with a mattress which is not more than about 1cm thick. a tesco spokeswoman said the company was shocked and that it would never allow prison labour in its supply chain. it has now launched an investigation and production at the factory has been suspended. katie prescott, bbc news. let's now turn to asia, where a major summit is about to take place involving the leaders of china, japan, and south korea. high on the agenda will be how to end some long lasting trade disputes. let's go to our asia business hub where mariko 0i is following the story. what can we expect to emerge from this summit? as you said, trade will
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definitely be high on the agenda stop i should say, though, to remind oui’ stop i should say, though, to remind our viewers, but christmas is not exactly a public holiday in asia, so we can expect these three leaders to keep us busy this week as they meet in beijing and chengdu this christmas week. and of course they have historical issues which date back all the way to the second world war. this is an ongoing dialogue, but they have been issues in the past. since president tom's trade war against china, that really seems to have changed the dynamics between the three, so china really needs close friends in asia, so just ahead of this summit, china announced it is going to cut some tariffs from the first of january. the optimistic views about the trade talks between the us and china, but of course that
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are cautious views as well, as these leaders are likely to discuss that and also they will talking about north korea and, on the other hand, japan and south korea have their own trades but as well. so there is a lot to discuss over this christmas week. now let's brief you on some other business stories. boeing's starliner astronaut space craft has returned to earth, after a failed mission to the international space station. the uncrewed demonstration flight launched successfully but then suffered technical problems. it appears the capsule burnt too much fuel as it fired its thrusters, leaving an insufficient supply to complete its planned mission. turbulence at german airline lufthansa, after last minute talks between the airline and the cabin crew union ufo failed to agree a new deal over pay and pensions. the union now says its members could take strike action in the near future. however they added industrial action wouldn't take place until after the 26th of december. the chinese telecoms firm huawei has recieved a boost in italy,
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after the country's industry minister — stefano patuanelli — said the firm should be allowed to help build italy's 56 network. the announcement comes after italy's parliamentary security committee warned late last week, that huawei involvement could pose security risks. and the latest star wars film is proving to be another blockbuster hit. the force awakens raked in $374 million in global ticket sales in its opening weekend, however that figure is below earlier films in the trilogy. still, the latest instalment ranked as one of the best december openings in north america. that's it for the business briefing this hour, but before we go, here are the markets. asian markets were mixed in early trade monday with activity thinning out as investors wind down for the christmas break, while confidence remains buoyed by relief at the china—us trade deal. wall street provided yet another record—breaking lead at the end of last week after data confirmed the us economy enjoyed reasonable
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growth in the third quarter, while other reports showed personal income and consumer confidence improving. oil prices extended friday's losses as kuwait and saudi arabia close in on a deal that will see them restart output in a shared zone along their border. production has been on hold in the region for about four years and the restart could see as much as 500,000 barrels hit the market. dozens of former thomas cook employees say they're struggling to access benefits and pay their bills, three months after the travel chain collapsed. some of those affected say they've received just 50 pounds in 12 weeks. the government has apologised, saying it's dedicated staff have helped thousands of people. 0ur correspondent simon browning has all the details. 9000 jobs disappeared overnight when thomas cook collapsed in september.
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three months on and dozens of its former employees have spoken to the bbc, because they are unable to get the benefits and support they desperately need to move on. but he was cabin crew for 12 years. you realise you are just a number. it doesn't matter what you have contributed or done. you are made to feel that it all doesn't matter, these are the rules, that is what they do, and that is the end of it. scores of people told us they were poorly advised by job scores of people told us they were poorly advised byjob centres because of confusion about their entitlement to other universal credit or jobseekers entitlement to other universal credit orjobseekers allowance. it has led to claims being opened under enclosed because of errors. ian was cabin crew for 1h years. he has given up on cleaning, scraping by on savings and help from family until he starts his newjob in the new year. it is notjust me, there are loads of ex— colleagues going through the same situation. the system has failed us. we have paid tax and work insurance all our lives to get nothing. i have been contacted to get nothing. i have been co nta cted by to get nothing. i have been contacted by dozens of people in the last few weeks, most too scared to
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speak on camera encase it their claims even further. 0ne your mother is on antidepressants and has hit rock and trying to access maternity benefits, while other single mothers are struggling to support their children because of errors made to their claims. the government has apologised, saying it has helped thousands with support, and urges those who are having problems to go back to bed job centres for advice. coming up at six o'clock on breakfast, jon kay and louise minchin will have all the day's news, business and sport. this is the briefing from bbc news. the latest headlines: warnings of a worsening refugee crisis in syria. turkey's president says more than eighty thousand people have fled fighting in idlib province. there are calls for a government inquiry after another racism row rocked english football. campaigners say racist incidents are on the rise.
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now it's time to look at the stories that are making the headlines in the media across the world. we begin with the times, who after speaking to a former prison inmate, report that islamist extremists in britain's prisons are holding makeshift sharia trials, circulating banned books, and openly grooming young muslim prisoners. the independent focusses on racism in football after play between tottenham hotspur and chelsea was halted and fans warned of their behaviour by the stadium announcer. the match referee reported an allegation of racist abuse was made against chelsea defender antonio rudiger in the second half of the fixture. in the times business section, the current gloom infecting the uk high street is spreading online, with more than 9,000 internet retailers reported to be suffering from significant financial distress. the guardian says tesco will suspended production at a factory in china alleged to have forced foreign prisoners to help make charity christmas cards
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and also withdrawn them from sale. the allegations came to light after a 6—year—old girl opened a box of charity christmas cards from the supermarket and discovered a plea for help inside one of them. and finally, do you trust reviews whilst shopping online? according to an investigation by the mail, many people are being duped into buying shoddy goods after reading fake reviews on amazon. the paper's investigation found glowing appraisals are sold for £13 amazon has responded and in a statement said "it is relentless in its efforts to protect the intergrity of reviews". we hope to give you a good review of these papers. with me is eileen burbidge, who's a partner at passion capital and a technology entrepreneur. let's

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