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LIVE IT AND GIVE IT: LOVE IS STILL IN FASHION!

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LIVE IT AND GIVE IT: LOVE IS STILL IN FASHION!

Looking to win over your loved one this Valentine’s Day? Try ‘date night’ experiences 

People around the world continue to say “I love you” by investing in experiences over material goods, as new data shows sentimental spending has increased by 6% since 2015, with the number of transactions up by 17% during the Valentine’s Day period.

The annual “Mastercard Love Index”, created by analysing credit, debit and prepaid transactions across the past three Valentine periods (11th-14th February 2015-17), reveals that the most popular way to your lover’s heart is through their stomach, as dining out for ‘date night’ takes top spot with 40% share of spend, and 75% share of transactions in 2017.

Whisking your partner away for an unforgettable travel experience (via air or train) also saw a significant rise as the number of transactions increased by 23% in 2017, accounting for 22% of total spend over the most romantic time of the year. Indulging in a hotel stay remains a firm favourite with 27% share of spend.

The data supports the rise of the ‘experience economy’ as happiness clearly comes from creating lasting memories – worthy of posting on social media – instead of purchasing ‘things’.

Contactless technology – perfect for avoiding those awkward moments when the bill comes – gains momentum as the value of transactions rose by a massive 311%, and a 203% increase in the number of transactions since 2015.In fact, the amount spent via contactless rose across all categories with the highest increase across air and train travel (1064%), jewellery (453%) and flowers (446%).

Conversely, money spent on traditional Valentine’s gifts such as flowers decreased by 3%, although the number of transactions increased by 14%, showing that although flowers remain a symbol of romance, a single stem means more than an elaborate bouquet. Similarly with jewellery, spend decreased by 9% but transactions increased by 10% (vs. 2015).

The study, which looked at shopper behaviour in more than 200 territories around the globe, identified further purchasing trends.

So, are we planners or spontaneous when it comes to matters in love? The data suggests that we are getting ahead of the curve when buying gifts. It’s no longer left until the last minute, as the majority (30%) of Valentine’s purchases are made on the 11th February (48.8 million transactions globally, over the past three years) however, just over a quarter (27%) of all transactions (between 11th – 14th February) were made on Valentine’s Day itself.

The trend for online shopping continues with an enormous 136% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions from Valentine’s Day 2015 to Valentine’s Day 2017.

“Spoiling your loved one on Valentine’s Day shows no signs of slowing down. Our data suggests that while people still purchase traditional gifts, the move towards putting on a great experience trumps all. Contactless payments are convenient and make life that little bit easier, so it’s great to see people embracing the technology around the world. The MasterCard Love Index – now in its 3rd year – highlights global and regional trends to offer priceless insight into consumer buying habits over the romantic period.’ Ann Cairns, President International, MasterCard

Regional summary of consumer spending habits across the globe:

KEY SPENDING PATTERNS PER REGION DURING VALENTINE’S DAY PERIOD
ACROSS 2015 – 2017

United States
  • America saw a 106% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions from Valentine’s Day
Latin America and the Caribbean

 

 

 

  • LAC saw a 327% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions
  • The number of transactions on flowers has increased by 28%.Jewellery also shows a similar trend with spend decreasing by 57% but interestingly transactions increased by 6%
  • Share of spend on hotels has actually decreased by -29%; taking a 18% share of spend and a 8% share of transactions in 2017
  • The number of transactions on transportation (air and/or train) increased by 27% in 2017, accounting for 8% of total spend during the Valentine’s Day period
Europe

 

 

 

  • Sentimental spending increased by 19% since 2015 in Europe, with the overall number of transactions up by 39%
  • The number of transactions on transportation (air and/or train) increased by 38% in 2017, accounting for 31% of total
  • Share of spend on dining out at restaurants has remained stable; taking a 29% share of spend and a 65% share of transactions in 2017
  • Spend on flowers has increased by 29% vs. 2015, and the number of transactions has increased by 48%. Jewellery has seen spend decrease by 5% with transactions increasing by 15% vs. 2015
UK
  • Sentimental spending increased by 11% since 2015 in the UK, with the overall number of transactions up by 23%
  • The amount spent on transportation (air and/or train) increased by 18% in 2017, accounting for 31% of total
  • Share of spend on dining out at restaurants has remained relatively stable; taking a 25% share of spend and a 60% share of transactions in 2017
  • Spend on hotels has increased by 36% vs. 2015, and the number of transactions has increased by 35%. Jewelry has seen spend decrease by 32% with transactions also decreasing by 12% vs. 2015
Middle East

 

 

  • People are planning ahead in MEA with the majority (29%) of Valentine’s purchases happening on the 11th February (620k transactions globally on February 11th over the past 3 years)
  • Share of spend on hotels has also remained stable over the past 3 years; taking a 41% share of spend and a 21% share of transactions in 2017
  • Spend on flowers has increased by 96% vs. 2015 with the number of transactions increasing by 71%
Asia Pacific

 

 

 

  • Sentimental spending has increased by 22% since 2015, with the overall number of transactions up by 74%
  • 30% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions
  • People are planning ahead with the majority (28%) of Valentine’s purchases happening on the 11th February (4.6 million transactions)
  • The number of transactions on transportation (air and/or train) increased by 17% in 2017, accounting for 21% of total spend during the Valentine’s Day period
  • The share of contactless transactions has seen an increase of 46%, and the value of these transactions increased by 166%
  • Spend on flowers in APAC increased by 39% vs. 2015 and the number of transactions also increased by 61%. Jewellery has seen overall spend increase by 21% with transactions increasing by 58% vs. 2015
Canada
  • The number of transactions on transportation (air and/or train) increased by 27% in 2017,  accounting for 33% of total spend
  • Canada saw a 216% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions in the period
  • Canadians are planning ahead with the majority (30%) of Valentine’s purchases happening on the 11th February (1.6 million transactions globally)

Finance

Sunak warns of bill to be paid to tackle Britain’s ‘exposed’ finances – FT

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Sunak warns of bill to be paid to tackle Britain's 'exposed' finances - FT 1

(Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will use the budget next week to level with the public over the “enormous strains” in the country’s finances, warning that a bill will have to be paid after further coronavirus support, according to an interview with the Financial Times.

Sunak told the newspaper there was an immediate need to spend more to protect jobs as the UK emerged from COVID-19, but warned that Britain’s finances were now “exposed.”

UK exposure to a rise of one percentage point across all interest rates was 25 billion pounds ($34.83 billion) a year to the government’s cost of servicing its debt, Sunak told FT.

“That (is) why I talk about leveling with people about the public finances (challenges) and our plans to address them,” he said.

The government has already spent more than 280 billion pounds in coronavirus relief and tax cuts this year, and his March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown.

He is also expected to announce a new mortgage scheme targeted at people with small deposits, the UK’s Treasury announced late on Friday.

Additionally, the government will also announce a new 100 million pound task force to crack-down on COVID-19 fraudsters exploiting government support schemes, it said.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman)

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Finance

G20 promises no let-up in stimulus, sees tax deal by summer

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G20 promises no let-up in stimulus, sees tax deal by summer 2

By Gavin Jones and Jan Strupczewski

ROME/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The world’s financial leaders agreed on Friday to maintain expansionary policies to help economies survive the effects of COVID-19, and committed to a more multilateral approach to the twin coronavirus and economic crises.

The Italian presidency of the G20 group of the world’s top economies said the gathering of finance chiefs had pledged to work more closely to accelerate a still fragile and uneven recovery.

“We agreed that any premature withdrawal of fiscal and monetary support should be avoided,” Daniele Franco, Italy’s finance minister, told a news conference after the videolinked meeting held by the G20 finance ministers and central bankers.

The United States is readying $1.9 trillion in fiscal stimulus and the European Union has already put together more than 3 trillion euros ($3.63 trillion) to keep its economies through lockdowns.

But despite the large sums, problems with the global rollout of vaccines and the emergence of new coronavirus variants mean the future path of the recovery remains uncertain.

The G20 is “committed to scaling up international coordination to tackle current global challenges by adopting a stronger multilateral approach and focusing on a set of core priorities,” the Italian presidency said in a statement.

The meeting was the first since Joe Biden – who pledged to rebuild U.S. cooperation in international bodies – U.S. president, and significant progress appeared to have been made on the thorny issue of taxation of multinational companies, particularly web giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the G20 Washington had dropped the Trump administration’s proposal to let some companies opt out of new global digital tax rules, raising hopes for an agreement by summer.

“GIANT STEP FORWARD”

The move was hailed as a major breakthrough by Germany’s Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire.

Scholz said Yellen told the G20 officials that Washington also planned to reform U.S. minimum tax regulations in line with an OECD proposal for a global effective minimum tax.

“This is a giant step forward,” Scholz said.

Italy’s Franco said the new U.S. stance should pave the way to an overarching deal on taxation of multinationals at a G20 meeting of finance chiefs in Venice in July.

The G20 also discussed how to help the world’s poorest countries, whose economies are being disproportionately hit by the crisis.

On this front there was broad support for boosting the capital of the International Monetary Fund to help it provide more loans, but no concrete numbers were proposed.

To give itself more firepower, the Fund proposed last year to increase its war chest by $500 billion in the IMF’s own currency called the Special Drawing Rights (SDR), but the idea was blocked by Trump.

“There was no discussion on specific amounts of SDRs,” Franco said, adding that the issue would be looked at again on the basis of a proposal prepared by the IMF for April.

While the IMF sees the U.S. economy returning to pre-crisis levels at the end of this year, it may take Europe until the middle of 2022 to reach that point.

The recovery is fragile elsewhere too. Factory activity in China grew at the slowest pace in five months in January, and in Japan fourth quarter growth slowed from the previous quarter.

Some countries had expressed hopes the G20 may extend a suspension of debt servicing costs for the poorest countries beyond June, but no decision was taken.

The issue will be discussed at the next meeting, Franco said.

(Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington Michael Nienaber in Berlin and Crispian Balmer in Rome; editing by John Stonestreet)

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Finance

Bank of England’s Haldane says inflation “tiger” is prowling

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Bank of England's Haldane says inflation "tiger" is prowling 3

By Andy Bruce and David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) – Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane warned on Friday that an inflationary “tiger” had woken up and could prove difficult to tame as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially requiring the BoE to take action.

In a clear break from other members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) who are more relaxed about the outlook for consumer prices, Haldane called inflation a “tiger (that) has been stirred by the extraordinary events and policy actions of the past 12 months”.

“People are right to caution about the risks of central banks acting too conservatively by tightening policy prematurely,” Haldane said in a speech published online. “But, for me, the greater risk at present is of central bank complacency allowing the inflationary (big) cat out of the bag.”

Haldane’s comments prompted British government bond prices to fall to their lowest level in almost a year and sterling to rise as he warned that investors may not be adequately positioned for the risk of higher inflation or BoE rates.

“There is a tangible risk inflation proves more difficult to tame, requiring monetary policymakers to act more assertively than is currently priced into financial markets,” Haldane said.

He pointed to the BoE’s latest estimate of slack in Britain’s economy, which was much smaller and likely to be less persistent than after the 2008 financial crisis, leaving less room for the economy to grow before generating price pressures.

Haldane also cited a glut of savings built by businesses and households during the pandemic that could be unleashed in the form of higher spending, as well as the government’s extensive fiscal response to the pandemic and other factors.

Disinflationary forces could return if risks from COVID-19 or other sources proved more persistent than expected, he said.

But in Haldane’s judgement, inflation risked overshooting the BoE’s 2% target for a sustained period – in contrast to its official forecasts published early this month that showed only a very small overshoot in 2022 and early 2023.

Haldane’s comments put him at the most hawkish end among the nine members of the MPC.

Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden on Friday said risks to UK inflation were broadly balanced.

“I see inflation expectations – whatever measure you look at – well anchored,” Ramsden said following a speech given online, echoing comments from fellow deputy governor Ben Broadbent on Wednesday.

(Editing by Larry King and John Stonestreet)

 

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