Here are the stories making the business headlines in Scotland and across the UK this morning.

Retail sales fall amid Christmas cutbacks

Scots are choosing to buy cheaper Christmas gifts or waiting for larger discounts from retailers before spending following dismal sales last month, the industry has said.

The warning came alongside figures published on Wednesday which show a 1.2 per cent decline in retail sales for November once the impact of inflation has been factored in.

It means year-on-year sales on that measure have fallen in both October and November, the start of the so-called golden quarter of festive trading which is vital for the sector.

The latest figures were also the fifth consecutive real-terms monthly decline in Scottish sales.

Communities near big energy schemes should gain new ‘benefits’, government says

People who live near large new energy generating infrastructure should gain “community benefits” like the cash being proposed for residents near new pylons, the Scottish Government says.

The call to widen benefits follows recommendations in summer to compensate households near huge new 55-metre “super pylons”.

The SSEN upgrade affects communities from the north coast, south through the Highlands, across the north-east, the Mearns and Angus to the central belt.

Work in England led to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s decision in November to cut up to £1,000 from annual bills for people near new pylons.

His plan affects “transmission infrastructure”, with rules decided in Westminster.

Scottish Government energy minister Gillian Martin, the MSP for Aberdeenshire East, wants the UK to go further.

Jaguar Land Rover begins road testing electric Range Rover prototypes

British carmaker Jaguar Land Rover has begun road testing prototypes of its electric Range Rover, in its first foray into building electric cars in the UK as it tries to catch up with rivals.

JLR, which makes the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, said it had opened a waiting list for pre-orders of the new Range Rover, its flagship vehicle, which is seen as a crucial step towards its electric future.

The carmaker, which vies with Japan’s Nissan to produce the most cars in the UK, has been relatively cautious in embracing electric vehicles. However, in April it announced a £15bn investment plan to upgrade its factories and launch electric versions its models, starting with the Range Rover.

JLR already sells electric cars, but its award-winning battery electric Jaguar I-Pace model has been built in Austria by contract manufacturer Magna Steyr since 2018.

Railway station catering investigated over rip-off concerns

Food and drink sales at UK railway stations are facing regulatory scrutiny over fears the £700m market lacks effective competition, meaning passengers are paying over the odds.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said it is investigating further after finding an average 10% premium at station catering stalls compared to the high street.

Its initial report found station operators are not provided with sufficient incentives to invite competition for outlets.

As a result, stalls are staying in the same hands for extended periods due to protected leases, the watchdog said.

It said when unprotected leases came up for renewal, the most common practice is to roll over or extend the lease without an open competition.

The ORR said the next phase of its inquiry will focus on what recommendations should be made to government, station operators, funders and other stakeholders to improve the functioning of the market.

More like this…

View all