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February 07, 2014

Also in the news this week – 7 February 2014

Record-breaking year for tax returns

More than 10 million tax returns were received by the 31 January filing deadline, beating last year's total of 9.61 million, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced. The record for the number of online returns, set last year, was also broken, as 8.48 million were sent online to HMRC. This represents 84.5% of all returns received. And overall, this means 93.4% met the deadlines, the highest percentage of on-time returns ever recorded. Behind these stats though, is the news that over 21,000 people left it until the eleventh hour, filing their return between 11pm and midnight on deadline day.

UK online retailers second only to US in exports

The UK is the world's second biggest online retail exporter, beaten only by the USA. These are the findings of a new joint survey by Google and the British Retail Consortium (BRC). It finds that UK retailers are investing heavily in international online experiences, localised websites and faster delivery times to drive exports. Mark Haviland, MD of Rakuten Marketing, commented: "The news from the BRC that the amount of overseas consumers searching for British brands is up 64% year-on-year is great news for UK retailers. Shoppers have become citizens of the world, no longer tied down by national borders; they expect their favourite products to be available worldwide." The report is available here.

Should SMEs be exempt from plastic bags scheme?

Plans for retailers to charge 5p for carrier bags must be kept simple for the scheme to work, the Environmental Audit Committee has warned. It said that exemptions for small retailers will be confusing and less effective than the Welsh scheme, where bag use has been reduced by over 75% with a straightforward 5p charge on all disposable bags. Retail bodies including the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and British Retail Consortium (BRC) have said that their members would like to participate in the scheme anyway, but the Federation of Small Business (FSB) favours an opt-out for smaller retailers.

Stuck at your desk? Why it's time to get moving

British office workers who complain about being tied to their desks have cause for concern – they actually spend the equivalent of five years of their lives at their desks without getting up, according to research for Sanlam Private Investments. That equates to nearly five hours a day sitting at a desk without moving. And 47% do less than an hour of exercise a week to make up for their sedentary lifestyle, while 24% say they don't have time to exercise. As a result, 52% are worried about their weight, 30% say they have worrying stress levels and 53% fear for their health. Saracens Rugby Club, in conjunction with Sanlam, has launched the Ultimate Office Fitness Guide to help office workers get more active at work.