* Almost half, or 47%, of consumers in the United Kingdom spent less during the holiday season in 2017 compared with a year earlier, Bloomberg reported, citing a survey by retail analytics firm Retail Economics. More than two-thirds of the 2,000 respondents reportedly opted to shop online. Rising inflation, coupled with stressed income levels and inclement weather, reportedly put off consumer retail spending during the period.
* U.S. apparel retailer Forever 21 Inc. provided information about its ongoing probe into the payment card data breach at some of its stores in the U.S. The retailer said it found signs of a malware installation at certain point-of-sale devices that had their encryption periodically turned off. The possible breach occurred from April 3 through Nov. 18, and stores outside the U.S. and payment card transactions on Forever 21's online portal were not affected.
* Swedish apparel retailer H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB will roll out its latest activewear collection, made mostly from recycled polyester and elastane. The collection, which the retailer said is part of its commitment to sustainability, offers a range of tights, hoodies and tops. It became available in select stores Dec. 28 and will debut on the company's online portal Jan. 4, 2018.
* The Indian unit of home appliances company LG Electronics Inc. made several changes to its top-level management in the country as it seeks to increase sales by over 20% in 2018, India's The Economic Times reported, citing three senior industry executives. The company abolished the system of having two regional sales heads for India, reportedly replacing it with a national sales executive led by former south and west India sales head Sanjeev Agarwal, among other appointments. LG India reportedly did not respond to a request for comment.
* Japanese consumer electronics company Panasonic Corp. is planning to increase its workforce up to 30% to supply the demand for air purification systems in China and double its sales, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. "We will raise our market share of a little more than 20% to 30% by fiscal 2020 to solidify our presence," Yoshiyuki Hanamura, managing director of Panasonic Ecology Systems Guangdong, told reporters at a press conference.
* U.S. accessories retailer Claire's Stores Inc. has recalled several of its glitter-based products after claims that they include asbestos, CNBC reported. The move came after a report said one customer named Kristi Warner mailed her daughter's glitter makeup kit to a lab that found cancer-causing asbestos in the product, the report added. The company said it has stopped the sales of the products. It also is issuing refunds and is hiring an independent laboratory to test the products.
FOOD & DRUG RETAIL
* U.K. pharmacy chain Boots UK Ltd., owned by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., has failed to keep its pledge to reduce the prices of emergency contraception across its stores nationwide, The Guardian reported. It has reduced the prices of the morning-after pill, but it has not been implemented more widely, the report said. The company reportedly attributed the delay to a "batch failure" that resulted in having few stocked items and stated that it provided free service for emergency hormonal contraception in many of its stores.
* Nestlé SA is pushing back on California's State Water Resources Control Board's conclusion that the company is using up more than its allocated share of water from the Strawberry Canyon watershed. A spokeswoman for the company said in an emailed statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence that Nestlé is gathering information to submit a response to the board, adding that it believes it holds "rights to all of the water" it has been collecting.
* South Korean retail sales totaled 10.68 trillion won in November, a 9.4% year-over-year increase from 9.76 trillion won, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Online retail sales rose 16.7% during the same period, while sales of offline retailers increased 5.4%. Among offline shops, convenience stores had the highest sales increase at 10.2% due to more single households buying daily necessities from neighborhood outlets.
* In-store traffic on the last Saturday before Christmas, or Super Saturday, increased 20% year over year across the U.S., MarketWatch reported, citing data from retail research firm ShopperTrak. This year's Super Saturday was only two days away from Christmas Day. It served as the last shopping day prior to the holiday, and this circumstance motivated shoppers to make purchases, the report added.
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