Your commercial news round-up: Scottish referendum, World Cup, Formula 1, Black Friday, Zara

updated on 24 November 2022

Reading time: four minutes

From politics to retail, there’s been a lot of newsworthy stories this week, but which do we think should be on your radar? The supreme court heard a case from the Scottish government over whether they should wield the power to hold their own referendum. As you may be aware, the World Cup kicked off this Sunday, but not without increasing controversy. In other sporting news, Formula 1 announced the launch of a new all-female driver category. Plus, in the retail world, Black Friday and returns costs have got people talking.

  • Judges in the Supreme Court have ruled that the Scottish government will not be allowed to hold an independence referendum without the UK government’s consent. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hopes to hold a referendum on 19 October 2023. According to Sturgeon, this would ideally be through a similar deal with the UK government to the 2014 referendum, to ensure the result would be legitimate and acknowledged internationally. Successive UK prime ministers have refused this, so this week, the case went to court to decide whether Holyrood could set up a referendum alone. Two days of argument were heard by judges in October 2022 and on Wednesday 23 November they ruled unanimously against the Scottish government’s asking. Sturgeon had made it clear that she’ll not give up on Scottish independence.
  • The decision by FIFA, the world football governing body, to issue yellow cards to team captains seen wearing the OneLove rainbow armbands has faced criticism. The Netherlands began the campaign in 2020 to promote diversity and inclusion and celebrate LGBTQ+ rights as homosexuality between men and women is illegal in Qatar. In response to the ban, the German Football Association has lodged a case over legal validity of the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Their spokesperson, Stefan Simon, has said, “FIFA has forbidden us from using a symbol of diversity and human rights. It said the ban would be linked to massive penalties (in the nature of) sporting sanctions without concretising exactly what it meant.” In a mark of solidarity, Alex Scott, former professional footballer and BBC presenter, wore the armband ahead of England's first match against Iran on Monday afternoon.
  • In other sporting news, the racing body Formula 1 (F1) has unveiled its new all-female driver category –  the F1 Academy – to “develop and prepare young female drivers to progress to higher levels of competition”. Beginning in 2023, the new racing series will provide a pathway for young women into racing and aims to deliver a more realistic chance of getting a female driver to motorsports biggest racing series. F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali commented: “Everyone should have the opportunity to follow their dreams and achieve their potential and Formula 1 wants to ensure we are doing everything we can to create greater diversity and routes into this incredible sport.”
  • Black Friday sales have begun to hit the digital high street in the UK but just “one in seven” deals are real discounts says Which? They surveyed 214 Black Friday deals last year at seven major home and tech retailers including Amazon, John Lewis and Very. It found that 209, or around 98%, of goods in the ‘deals’ were cheaper or the same price at other times in the year. Shockingly, none were cheaper on Black Friday alone. Reena Sewraz, Which? retail editor, said: "Our research shows that finding a good deal on Black Friday is like looking for a needle in a haystack.” Worth bearing in mind before starting your Christmas shopping early.
  • Fashion retailer Zara has abandoned its free returns policy, but it’s not alone. According to research, one-quarter of online retailers are now charging for returns in the UK, a 14% increase since last year. This news comes as Zara’s competition, ASOS, flagged a rise in the physical number of online returns they receive to above pre-pandemic levels. In response to the increasing level of retailers choosing paid returns, Deloitte Retail Director Marie Hamblin acknowledged the potential damage to sales. She said: “Passing on the full or partial cost of a return to the customer isn’t necessarily right for every retailer, some will decide it is not for them given the potential impact on sales.”

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