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May 02, 2014

Also in the news this week – 2 May 2014

Economy still too reliant on consumer spending, says BCC

The latest figures on retail spending from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that retail sales volumes in March 2014 are up 4.2% on the year. However, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is warning that economic recovery must not be over-reliant on consumer spending. David Kern, BCC chief economist, said: "While consumer spending must remain a crucial part of the economy, it is becoming increasingly important that the recovery becomes more balanced. Exports and investment must make a bigger contribution than they have done over the past year."

Agency fees are beyond the budget of small firms

A survey of 2,500 small businesses had found that 52% say they can't afford to hire a UK design, IT, website, marketing or branding agency to help grow their business, according to And 30% who said they approached an agency because they were starting up a business revealed the cost would have put them off starting their own business. As a result, many SMEs are using freelance experts whose fees are significantly lower than those of an agency. Of those using freelancers, 33% said the work was outstanding, while a further 50% said the work was good.

Businesses must check candidates' references, warns FSB

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is warning its members about the scale of reference fraud affecting SMEs. The FSB and BBC1's Fake Britain programme conducted a survey of 1,800 small firms and found that 17% had discovered job candidates with fraudulent references. Bogus references are used at every level of business, from entry-level positions (40%) to directors (2%). The research also found that 71% of SME owners are unaware of websites that provide applicants with fake references.

UK ad spend to soar

Advertising spend in the UK is predicted to top £20bn for the first time in 2015, according to a report by the Advertising Association and Warc. This is based on a projected increase of 5.5% in 2014 and 6.5% in 2015, with mobile advertising seeing the fastest levels of growth. Pierre Naggar, managing director EMEA at Turn, said: "As mobile ad spend continues to grow and more companies take up advertising on mobile, there will be increased competition to deliver a more personalised advertising experience to on-the-go consumers on the device they are engaging with at that moment."

UK retailers attracting more overseas customers

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has released figures showing that British online retailers are growing their international customer bases. Stephen Robertson, BRC director general, said: "Online is the fastest growing part of retailing. A 29% increase in retail searches in a year is a huge increase in potential shoppers. The figures show British retailers are very good at selling online and winning business from all parts of the world." Commenting on the news, Mark Haviland, managing director at Rakuten Marketing Europe, said: "The fact that the UK is now the world's second largest exporter through online commerce is testament to our world renowned brands, but a market-specific and tailored approach with an experienced global partner is essential to really conquer international borders."

Twitter marketing budgets rise

Twitter budgets are on the up and marketers are becoming more conscious about using Twitter to achieve clear objectives, according to research by SocialBro. Its survey found that 57% of firms are spending at least 50% more on Twitter marketing compared with two years ago. The majority of SMEs use Twitter mainly for brand building with lead generation in second place, while bigger companies use the micro-blogging site to acquire new customers. However, while 74% of respondents said they loved Twitter's real time communication capability, 53% said that their biggest bugbear with social media was its potential to be time intensive.