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Christmas shoppers urged to be wary of online fraud

Consumers shopping online this week are being advised to be on the lookout for scams.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are expected to see another increase in online spending this year.

Fraudsters typically target consumers at busy times, but despite that, it looks like card fraud is on the decline.

Debit and credit card fraud is dropping according to banks.

The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) said that despite the fact that debit and credit card usage has increased by almost 30%, fraud losses were down 49% last year when compared to just three years earlier.

90% of card fraud takes place online, on the telephone or mail order rather than in store.

Despite the decline last year over €22m was stolen through card frauds in Ireland.

260,000 fraudulent transactions took place in 2019.

Chief Executive of the BPFI Brian Hayes said the drop is easily explained.

“Consumers are becoming more aware of the risks of card fraud and the ways in which they can protect themselves from falling victim,” he added.

More people are shopping online, in particular with Christmas approaching and Level 5 restrictions closing many stores and restricting people to online purchasing or click and collect.

Six in ten people say they will do more online shopping this Christmas.

Here are some simple steps to reduce the risk of being scammed using your debit or credit card:

– Only use secure websites. Addresses should have ‘https’ before the purchase is made, indicating a secure connection

– Make sure a padlock symbol is shown beside the website address

– Never use public Wi-Fi when making payments; switch to 3G/4G instead

– Avoid clicking on social media or pop-up adverts, instead independently visit the website of the online sales company

– Be cautious about claiming outrageous offers in particular on social media. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is

– Stick to well-known websites or websites that you are familiar with or websites associated with high street retail outlets.

Article Source: Christmas shoppers urged to be wary of online fraud – RTE – Fran McNulty

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Surprise bounce in consumer sentiment in November

Consumer sentiment showed a significant and somewhat surprising rebound in November which may signal a stronger outlook for Christmas spending. 

The latest KBC Bank Irish consumer sentiment index jumped to 65.5 in November from 52.6 in October, returning the index to its strongest level since March. 

However, the November reading still remains substantially below both its early 2020 reading of 85.5 or the average of the 25 year survey of 87.

KBC Bank Ireland said the November bounce may be as a result of a spate of strong economic releases and several new job announcements during the survey period. 

It also said that consumers may be focussed ahead on the prospect of some Christmas light at the end of a pandemic-related tunnel.

But the bank also highlighted the “choppy nature” of survey readings in recent months as consumers in Ireland and elsewhere attempt to make sense of an unprecedented and very uncertain environment. 

“It should also be emphasised that the level of the November sentiment reading still points to a cautious and likely confused Irish consumer,” KBC Bank Ireland’s chief economist Austin Hughes said.

KBC noted that all five main elements of the consumer sentiment index showed material improvements between October and November but the gains were most pronounced in relation to the macro components of the survey. 

It said the pandemic has imparted a severe macro shock on Ireland and elsewhere but the intensity of impact across age groups, regions, employment categories and the income distribution has varied widely. 

Therefore the “personal” elements of the survey have seen a smaller if still substantial weakening, the bank added.

“Although it is vitally important to counter threats to the immediate outlook and support sentiment and spending over end-year, an economy is not just for Christmas,” Austin Hughes said. 

“The key task must be to ensure the policy framework develops in a manner that limits the longer term threat to jobs and incomes as well as health outcomes,” he added.

Article Source: Surprise bounce in consumer sentiment in November – RTE

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Draghi says stimulus can aid recovery after Covid but warns on ‘bad’ debt

Former European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi has warned governments to use the massive stimulus they’ve deployed in the coronavirus pandemic to upgrade their economies or face the risk of another debt crisis.

In his first high-profile appearance since leaving his post in October, Mr Draghi called for “credible” economic policies to avoid disillusionment among the young, who will have to repay the cost of fighting the coronavirus. He also praised the European Union’s deal to issue joint debt to fund the recovery.

He compared the need to rebuild the economy after the pandemic to the aftermath of the Second World War.

“We should take inspiration from those who were involved in rebuilding the world, Europe and Italy after World War II,” he said.

“The debt created by the pandemic is unprecedented and will have to be repaid mainly by those who are young today,” he said. “It is therefore our duty to equip them with the means to service that debt.”

European institutions, savers and financial markets will only fund “good debt” if it’s being used for investment in human capital, crucial infrastructure or research, he said at a Catholic convention in Rimini, Italy yesterday.

“If, however, debt is used for unproductive purposes, it will be seen as ‘bad’ debt and its sustainability will be eroded,” he said.

“Low interest rates are not in themselves a guarantee of sustainability.”

Mr Draghi’s comments come as governments globally – concerned about their rising debt burdens – debate whether to extend their crisis support. They’re trying to strike a balance between preventing mass unemployment that could cause lasting damage, and restructuring their economies for the post-pandemic world.

Mr Draghi has recently been appointed to a Vatican body advising Pope Francis on social and economic affairs.

While the former ECB chief has kept a low profile since returning to Italy, he is routinely mentioned in the press as a potential prime minister or president should the country fall into one of its recurrent political crises.

Article Source: Click Here

Euro area sheds almost half of jobs created since 2013

The coronavirus pandemic has wiped out nearly half of the 12 million euro-area jobs created in the seven years since the last recession, in another sign of the enormous damage wreaked on the economy.

Employment slumped by 4.9 million in first half of the year, almost all in the second quarter when the most stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus were in place.

More declines are likely. Generous furlough programs across the 19-nation bloc have so far contained the fallout on the labour market from a record economic contraction, with a rise in unemployment that is more modest than in the US.

Governments are now facing tough choices on how to wind down those programs though, as they weigh ballooning debt against the consequences of massive job losses for the economy.

Even the possibility of lost wages can cause consumers to increase their savings, undermining the recovery. The European Central Bank predicts an increase in joblessness as not all people in short-time work schemes or temporary layoffs will return to their previous posts.

In the US, with a similar population to the eurozone, employment is down more by than 12 million since the end of 2019.

The UK reported last week that payrolls have plunged by more than 700,000 since March. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is planning to gradually phase out wage support there – though pressure is mounting to extend it – after spending £35bn (€38.73bn) on the programs so far.

With the virus disrupting global travel, airlines are among the companies planning the most wide-ranging job cuts. Deutsche Lufthansa AG has set a goal of slashing 22,000 full-time positions and warned that compulsory dismissals are likely. Air France-KLM is planning thousands of job cuts to secure government aid. German electronics retailer Ceconomy AG on Thursday announced plans to cut 3,500 jobs. A survey by the Ifo Institute showed this week that companies in Europe’s largest economy don’t expect business to normalize for another 11 months on average.

Article Source: Click Here

Property prices rise again in June despite pandemic

Property prices rose marginally in the year to June despite the pandemic causing massive disruption to the housing market.

Prices were up by just 0.1pc in June when compared with the same month last year.

House building has been heavily set back by the virus, with estate agents reporting a fall off in viewing activity.

The rise in June compares with an increase of 0.3pc in the year to May, according to the Central Statistics Office.

However, there was a fall of 33pc in the number of homes bought in June compared with the same month last year.

In Dublin, the prices of homes were down 0.7pc in the year to June.

The highest house price growth in Dublin was in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown at 0.1pc, while South Dublin saw a decline of 2.7pc.

Outside of Dublin prices rose by almost 1pc in the year to June.

The region outside of Dublin that saw the largest rise in house prices was the South-West at 6pc. At the other end of the scale, the South-East saw a 0.7pc decline.

Just 2,268 purchases of dwellings were filed with Revenue in June.

This represents a 33.1pc decrease compared to the 3,391 purchases in June 2019.

But it is up on the 1,937 purchases in May this year.

The total value of transactions filed in June was €650m, the CSO said.

The median, or typical, price paid for a property in the year to June was €260,000.

Article Source: Click Here

Changing to four-day week will save jobs, says German union chief

The head of Germany’s largest trade union has proposed a four-day week to protect jobs threatened by digitalisation and the coronavirus-induced economic slump.

Jorg Hofmann, head of IG Metall, said he planned to negotiate the reduced working hours for his members in wage talks with major players in the German automotive and mechanical parts sectors.

“The four-day week would be the answer to structural shifts in sectors such as the automotive industry,” he told the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

The proposal “would allow industrial jobs to be retained instead of being written off”, he insisted.

Digitalisation and the shift towards electric mobility have uprooted the German automotive industry, with major manufacturers planning to cut jobs in coming years.

Mr Hofmann, whose union represents 2.3 million Germans, claimed a four-day week would allow companies such as Daimler and Bosch “to retain specialist workers and save money on redundancy packages”.

Initial talks with industry representatives were “met with widespread approval”, he said.

But he warned there would also have to be wage compensation “so that employees can afford it”.

Recovery

German industry has experienced an unexpectedly robust recovery since the height of the pandemic when production was run down to a minimum, with orders rising 28pc in June.

But the prospect of a V-shaped recovery has not stopped struggling car makers working on restructuring plans.

Daimler is reported to be on the verge of expanding job cuts to 30,000 globally. BMW is planning to cut 6,000 of its 120,000 staff worldwide, while Volkswagen announced up to 7,000 job losses last year.

Article Source: Click Here

Alaskan model may help restart the aviation industry

The aviation industry is staring into a winter of devastation but the answer could lie in colder climes.

An Alaska-style safe travel model could be utilised, amid warnings Irish airports desperately need support measures for the crippled aviation sector.

Traffic has collapsed by 97pc at Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Ireland West-Knock airports since the pandemic erupted.

Industry sources are concerned that if tight travel restrictions continue into the winter months, then the industry will be decimated.

Aviation officials have urged the Government to consider special measures to support safe travel.

It came as Ireland now faces having to react to a range of varied measures introduced across the European aviation sector.

All Irish passengers leaving Dublin Airport on Emirates Airlines must now have an official Covid-19 screening test completed prior to travel for admission to the United Arab Emirates.

Brussels Airport is expected to shortly introduce Covid-19 testing for all ‘red zone’ passengers with the installation of a special mobile testing facility.

Heathrow Airport, which boasts the busiest Irish air-travel routes, has backed calls for pre-flight Covid-19 testing on all medium- and long-haul routes.

Germany has also unveiled a special programme of financial supports for its airports.

Now, the Government has been urged to consider the Alaskan safe travel model – hailed as the most comprehensive outside of New Zealand’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all air travellers. Under the Alaskan model, all non-residents must arrive with a negative Covid-19 test conducted within 72 hours of travel.

A special Alaska Travel Portal has been created to allow for test results to be uploaded digitally.

Any non-resident arriving without such a test will be required to undertake one at a cost of €200 and then to quarantine while the results are awaited.

Senator Jerry Buttimer said it was vital Ireland got people safely flying again.

“I believe the Alaskan model offers enormous advantages for Ireland. It is vital that people are reassured about the safety of flying and that while we kick-start a critical component of the economy, public health is also protected,” he said.

“I will be discussing this model with Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and the clear advantages it offers for Ireland.” Cork Chamber of Commerce policy director Thomas McHugh said that the aviation industry was critical for key sectors of the Irish economy.

Article Source: Click Here

No recovery in the retail sector before 2025, says EY report

The technology sector will have recovered from the effects of the coronavirus and lockdown by the end of this year, but retail will not see 2019 levels of activity until beyond 2025.

Overall, the economy here will not recover to its 2019 size until 2023 and Northern Ireland’s will take a further year return to pre Covid-19 levels, according to a new report.

The EY Economic Eye anticipates that the Republic’s overall economy will recover by 2023 but many sectors will remain depressed for five years from the start of the outbreak or longer.

That includes retail – traditionally a huge employer and which alongside agriculture faces the slowest recovery of any sector.

Other people-facing sectors like hotels, restaurants and the arts face an only slightly shorter recovery – none is expected to see 2019 levels till 2025. Manufacturing will recover by 2023, in line with the broader economy but construction is not expected to recover to pre-Covid levels that were already failing to meet the country’s housing needs until 2024.

In Northern Ireland, where a recovery is set to be slower, 70pc of sectors face waits of longer than five years to recover – compared to 40pc of sectors in the Republic.

EY predicts 38,000 job losses in Northern Ireland this year, and 25,000 next year.

While the toll of job losses is steeper this year for the Republic – with 9.7pc of jobs going instead of 4.2pc – the Republic is expected to see jobs growth next year and to recover more quickly than the North.

The report from business advisors EY is written by its chief economist Neil Gibson and manager Eve Bannon.

They say sectors such as retail, and accommodation and food should see activity pick up later in the year as they adapt to a new socially-distant way of operating. The expectation is that the numbers returning to work will be will be fewer than employed previously, or will involve shorter hours – and therefore less pay – for those who return.

It states that economic recovery is on the way across the island of Ireland.

But it adds that “for many markets across the world, the hardest yards are still ahead and the fear of a second wave and future economic disruption is prevalent”.

While it forecasts a steeper slump in GDP for the Republic at -10.8pc than Northern Ireland at -10.4pc, it warns that Northern Ireland’s economy will take longer to recover.

And while the bigger Irish economy will rebound by 6.6pc next year, Northern Ireland’s first year of recovery will be more muted at 5.5pc.

In addition, the report said that the picture for unemployment in Northern Ireland had been clouded by the widespread use of the furlough scheme, which has preserved the jobs of 240,200 people over lockdown.

In addition, 76,000 people in self-employed roles have received support from the British government’s self-employed income support scheme.

Article Source: Click Here

Irish consumers now sixth-most confident in Europe

Deloitte has released it latest State of the Consumer Tracker which shows consumer confidence holding steady into July, with Ireland now in second place in Europe for consumer confidence in visiting stores in person.

This is the latest of the new bi-weekly survey, which tracks Irish consumers’ attitudes towards personal well-being, financial concerns, travel and hospitality, transport and retail. 

The results are based on a survey of 1,000 consumers across 18 countries respectively (1,000 Irish consumers). The most recent data was gathered between 7 and 11 July, one week following Ireland entering the third phase of the lifting of restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey shows that 60% of Irish consumers now say that they want to make purchases in-store, up from 58% in the previous wave of research. Confidence in visiting physical stores is up a further 5%, with 61% of consumers now feeling safe to do so, putting Ireland second in Europe for this, just 1 point behind the Netherlands.

Currently, only 20% of Irish consumers are actively seeking travel deals, which is consistent with the previous Tracker. Deloitte say thst with Irish consumers’ intent to spend on travel having plateaued, the Stay and Spend incentive, combined with an increase in confidence in hotel accommodation (38% – up from 30% since the last index) may drive an increase in staycations in Ireland during the off season.

The survey shows notable rises in confidence in visiting restaurants – now at 38% – and in engaging in one-to-one services, with more than half of respondents now feeling safe to visit a hairdresser, barber or beautician.

Commenting on the survey, Partner and Head of Consumer at Deloitte Ireland, Daniel Murray said, “While consumer confidence remains consistent, so too do many of the concerns that the pandemic has inflicted upon us. The slight uptick in consumers’ concern for their physical wellbeing and that of their families, as well as persistent uncertainty about their personal finances and job security, serve as a reminder that the negative impacts of the pandemic are not yet behind us.”

He added, “Business leaders must recognise this renewed consumer confidence in tandem with people’s continued concerns, and strike a delicate balance in attempting to rebuild what has been lost to the crisis, while also ensuring that consumers’ safety is never compromised upon.”

Article Source: Click Here

Expanded business restart grant scheme opens for applications

Applications have opened for the Government’s Restart Grant Plus Scheme after the maximum grant available was raised to €25,000.

Businesses that have suffered a 25% loss of expected turnover between April 1 and June 30 can apply for the funding if they have less than 250 employees and turnover of less than €25m. Eligible companies must also declare their intention to re-employ staff in receipt of the temporary wage subsidy scheme.

Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar said hairdressers, sports clubs, cafés, restaurants, and several other businesses can use this money to help with the costs associated with reopening and adapting to what is a very different environment.

“We must do everything we can to help businesses reopen and get people back to work,” said Mr Varadkar. “We are increasing the Restart Grant Plus, which means that small and medium-sized businesses can now get between €4,000 and €25,000 to help them get back on their feet after what has been an exceptionally difficult time.”

Changes to the grant scheme include €300m in additional funding to the €250m previously committed. The minimum grant is now €4,000 and the maximum is €25,000. Previous grant amounts were €2,000 and €10,000 respectively.

Medium-sized companies are now also eligible. Previously, the scheme was limited to firms employing less than 50 people.

Non-rateable B&Bs, sports clubs with commercial activities, and trading charity shops have also been added to the category of organisations that can apply for the grant.

Multinationals are not eligible along with small Irish-based subsidiaries with overseas parent companies. Large chains that are part of a large group company with a number of branches, such as fast food, group and multiple supermarkets, group hotels, group betting shops, and group pharmacies are not eligible.

Applications for the grant are made through local councils while tourism body Fáilte Ireland will administer the funding to B&B, with applications to open over the coming weeks.

Businesses that have suffered a 25% loss of expected turnover between April 1 and June 30 can apply for the funding if they have less than 250 employees and turnover of less than €25m. Eligible companies must also declare their intention to re-employ staff in receipt of the temporary wage subsidy scheme.

Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar said hairdressers, sports clubs, cafés, restaurants, and several other businesses can use this money to help with the costs associated with reopening and adapting to what is a very different environment.

“We must do everything we can to help businesses reopen and get people back to work,” said Mr Varadkar. “We are increasing the Restart Grant Plus, which means that small and medium-sized businesses can now get between €4,000 and €25,000 to help them get back on their feet after what has been an exceptionally difficult time.”

Changes to the grant scheme include €300m in additional funding to the €250m previously committed. The minimum grant is now €4,000 and the maximum is €25,000. Previous grant amounts were €2,000 and €10,000 respectively.

Medium-sized companies are now also eligible. Previously, the scheme was limited to firms employing less than 50 people.

Non-rateable B&Bs, sports clubs with commercial activities, and trading charity shops have also been added to the category of organisations that can apply for the grant.

Multinationals are not eligible along with small Irish-based subsidiaries with overseas parent companies. Large chains that are part of a large group company with a number of branches, such as fast food, group and multiple supermarkets, group hotels, group betting shops, and group pharmacies are not eligible.

Applications for the grant are made through local councils while tourism body Fáilte Ireland will administer the funding to B&B, with applications to open over the coming weeks.

Businesses that received a grant under the first scheme can re-apply to local authorities to receive additional funding.

Article Source: Click Here