December shopper footfall down 'significantly'

The number of people out shopping in the UK in the first two weeks of December fell "significantly" compared to last year, retail researchers say.

Analysis firm Springboard found a 4.9% decrease in footfall at shopping centres, retail parks and high streets.

Bad weather and rise in online shopping were both factors in the decline, according to Diane Wehrle.

The figures come as a retail analyst said it expected shops to make big discounts in the week before Christmas.

Consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) said it was anticipating more retailers to be discounting in the week leading up to Christmas than during the Black Friday weekend.

Snow impact

Springboard's analysis for this month - up to 14 December - showed that the number of people visiting shops compared to the same period last year fell by 4.9% - almost three times the 1.7% decrease in 2016.

Ms Wehrle said last week's snow had a "clear impact" on footfall, but was just one of a number of factors.

She said:"The reasons are associated with budgetary constraints, due to inflation and the recent interest rate rise, but also due to the heavy discounting in November.

"Black Friday pulled spending forward, thereby impacting on customer activity in December.And of course all of this is set against a backdrop of a continuing rise in online spending."

She added that while online spending accounts for about 15% of total retail spending, it is rising approximately 10% year on year.

Image copyright PA

Meanwhile, PwC said it expected retailers to make big discounts in the final week before Christmas to convince shoppers to keep spending throughout the festive period.

The firm has analysed the number of promotions advertised in shops and online during November and December for the past seven years.

It found that many of the retailers offering promotions during the Black Friday weekend in late November returned to full price sales by the beginning of December, before relaunching discounts in the lead up to Christmas.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said:"As we rapidly approach Christmas itself, we are already seeing an uptick in promotional activity as retailers try to attract customers through their doors and clear festive stock."

Earlier this week it was revealed that Black Friday helped retail sales to grow by 1.1% last month[1] - despite average prices rising faster than average wages.


By BBC business correspondent Joe Lynam

The six weeks from the end of November to the start of January account for up to half of any major retailer's annual profits.

Have a bad Christmas, and you'll have a bad year.

Add in falling real incomes because inflation is high and wage growth is modest, and retailers are especially nervous this year.

So that's why some of them are offering decent discounts in the very fortnight before Christmas that they need to maximise their margins (profits).And the reason?Competition.

The rivalry on - and offline - between retailers is intense.No flash sale by a large company, will go unmatched by its rivals.

And consumers, thanks to the internet, are now increasingly aware of sudden discounting.So bargains don't go a-begging....

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Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle United - BBC Sport

Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil scored his third goal of the season with a superb volley

Newcastle dropped into the relegation zone after suffering a fourth defeat in a row, while Arsenal moved back into the top four with a narrow victory.

Mesut Ozil's brilliant volleyed goal in the first half was enough for Arsene Wenger's side, who dominated until a late rally from Newcastle.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles hit the side-netting for Arsenal before the break, but Newcastle had chances in the second half for Jacob Murphy and Ayoze Perez.

The result puts Arsenal into fourth place while Newcastle have now claimed just one point from the last 27.

Newcastle only came to life in the latter stages, with Perez failing to take advantage of two rare chances when he put a shot and then a header over the bar.

Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle:Mesut Ozil's goal was a gem - Arsene Wenger

Jack Wilshere came the closest to giving Arsenal breathing space late on when he saw his side-footed shot saved by the recalled Rob Elliot in the Newcastle goal.

It was Newcastle's 10th straight Premier League defeat to Arsenal and they are now without a league win since 21 October when they beat Crystal Palace 1-0.

Edgy Arsenal relieved by Ozil brilliance

Seventh in the table at kick-off and without a win in three matches is not the sort of run-in to the busy festive schedule that Arsenal are accustomed to.

And hamstring and groin injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott[1] respectively also gave Wenger much to ponder in the lead-up to the meeting with Newcastle.

As this touch map shows, Mesut Ozil only featured in the final two-thirds of the pitch in his excellent display against Newcastle

They looked slick for much of the afternoon and threatened around the edge of Newcastle's area on a regular basis, but the lack of the killer instinct in front of goal led to some edginess as the match wore on.

Ozil's moment of magic was the one real ray of light on a grey afternoon, the Germany international showing impeccable technique and balance to strike the ball beyond a helpless Elliot after Newcastle failed to clear.

With Liverpool the next league visitors to the Emirates, Arsenal will be thankful for the split second of brilliance that helped to end a worrying dip in results.

Newcastle's slide continues

When Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles forced Petr Cech into a save when he rose unmarked to head a free-kick on target early on, Rafael Benitez must have hoped it was a sign of things to come.

Newcastle striker Joselu made no touches inside the Arsenal area

But Newcastle retreated into their shells for much of the match, and struggled to chase the game after falling behind.

Their slide down the table, from sixth when they beat Palace for their last victory on 21 October, has coincided with stories of a potential takeover by PCP Partners[2] said to be in the region of £300m.

Magpies fans will want matters resolving soon, as their side looks to be in dire need of an injection of fresh talent in the forthcoming transfer window to spark them back to life.

Man of the match - Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Mesut Ozil was integral to Arsenal's win, with 123 touches and just under 90% of his 106 passes finding their target, as well as his brilliant winner

"We need something in January" - what they said

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez: "We had our chances.We were pushing and attacking.We had chances to draw.It's a pity.We are learning.In some games we are one goal behind.The players are working hard.It's a pity.

"We need to be competitive like today and keep going.We are a young team.When you're not winning you lose confidence.We have to keep working this way.Try to get a result.In January, try to bring in people.

Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle:We need players in January - Rafael Benitez

"The fans know the team will be tough.They also know we need something in January - that will help the current squad."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "The necessity to win was playing on the mind of the players towards the end.

"We had three games in six days.In the last one you could suffer because Newcastle produced a physical performance.

"We had two away games and two draws.Against Manchester United we had a quality performance but couldn't get the win."

Home is where the heart is for Arsenal - the stats you may have missed

  • Arsenal have won 13 of their last 14 home Premier League games, losing the other to Manchester United.
  • Newcastle are without a win in nine Premier League games (D1 L8), their longest winless run in league football since May 2015 (10).
  • Rafa Benitez has never enjoyed a victory away to Arsenal in the Premier League in seven attempts, drawing two and losing five.
  • Jack Wilshere started consecutive Premier League games for Arsenal for the first time since May 2015.
  • Mesut Ozil has been directly involved in six goals in his last five Premier League games at the Emirates (two goals, four assists).
  • Ozil has had a hand in three goals in his three top-flight appearances against Newcastle (2 goals, 1 assist).
  • The German created eight goal-scoring chances - only Kevin de Bruyne (nine v Southampton in November) has managed more in a single Premier League game this season.Ozil also managed eight v Everton in October.
  • Petr Cech has now kept 199 Premier League clean sheets.

What's next?

Arsenal face West Ham for the second time inside a week when they host the Carabao Cup quarter-final at 19:45 GMT on Tuesday, 19 December.The Gunners then host Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Friday, 22 December at 19:45.

Newcastle are back in London for their next outing, away to West Ham on Saturday, 23 December at 15:00 GMT....

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Rocket rumbles give volcanic insights

Falcon rocket and volcano eruption Image caption An "upside down volcano" (L) and an "upside down rocket" (R) What do volcanoes and rockets have in common? "Volcanoes have a nozzle aimed at the sky, and rockets have a nozzle aimed at the ground," explains Steve McNutt, a geosciences professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa. It explains why he and colleague Dr Glenn Thompson have installed the tools normally used to study eruptions at the famous Kennedy Space Center. Comparing the different types of rumblings could yield new insights. In the case of rockets, the team thinks their seismometers and infrasound (low-frequency acoustic waves) detectors might potentially be used by the space companies as a different type of diagnostic tool, to better understand the performance of their vehicles;or perhaps as a way to identify missiles in flight. In the case of volcanoes, the idea is to take the lessons learned at Kennedy and fine-tune the algorithms used to interpret what is happening in an eruption. It might even be possible to develop systems that give early warnings of some of the dangerous debris flows associated with volcanoes.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionGlenn Thompson and Steve McNutt:"Kennedy has strong signals to test equipment " "It all started really as a way to test and calibrate our equipment," says Glenn. "We don't have any volcanoes in South Florida - obviously.But Kennedy provided some strong sources, and it also gave our students the opportunity to learn how to deploy stations and work with the data." The team has now recorded the seismic and acoustic signals emanating from about a dozen rockets. Most have been associated with launches;a few have been related to what are called static fire tests, in which the engines on a clamped vehicle are briefly ignited to check they are flight-ready. But perhaps the most fascinating event captured so far was the SpaceX pad explosion in September 2016. This saw a Falcon 9 rocket suffer a catastrophic failure as it was being fuelled. Many people will have seen the video of the spectacular fireball.But Glenn's and Steve's equipment caught information not apparent in that film[1].

Media playback is unsupported on your device...

Media captionSpaceX explosion:The equipment detected multiple signals over 26 minutes For example, they detected more than 150 separate sub-events in the infrasound over the course of 26 minutes. These were likely individual tanks, pipes or other components bursting into flames. Of course, the SpaceX explosion was an unusual occurrence, and it is the more routine activity that most interests the team.And some clear patterns are starting to emerge in their study of "upside down volcanoes". "As the rocket gets higher and higher and accelerates, we see a decrease in the frequency in the infrasound - that's basically a Doppler shift because the source is moving away from us," says Steve. "And then you get a coupling of the signal in the air into the ground and this produces seismic waves recorded on the seismometer. "So, we get some common features between the infrasound and the seismometer, but then there's a little separation of the energy between the two." Image copyright SPL Image caption A deadly pyroclastic flow heads down the flanks of the Soufrière Hills volcano in Montserrat There is a lot still to learn, but the pair think they can distinguish the different types of rockets - to tell a Falcon from an Atlas from a Delta. There are subtle but significant divergences in their spectral signatures, which almost certainly reflect their distinct designs and modes of operation. Where in particular the rockets could have instruction for volcano monitoring is in describing moving sources. A rocket is a very well understood physical process.Its properties and parameters - such as the size of the nozzle orifice, the thrust, the trajectory and the distance - are all precisely known. The related seismic and acoustic signals should therefore serve as templates to help decipher some of the features of eruptions that share similar behaviours. Good examples of rapid movement in the volcano setting are the big mass surges like pyroclastic flows (descending clouds of hot ash/rock) and lahars (mud/ash avalanches). An objective of the team is to improve seismometer and infrasound systems' characterisation of these dangerous phenomena. This could lead to useful alerts being sent to people who live around volcanoes. "Assuming you can find a few safe places to put your instruments that are reasonably close, you'd get your advance warning," said Steve. "What you'd be doing then is getting the time and the strength of the signal and then watching it evolve to figure out which direction it's going. "If you can do that successfully then you can forecast with a couple of minutes in advance things like lahars and pyroclastic flows downstream." Glenn added:"I worked on [the Caribbean island of] Montserrat during the crisis from 1995 to 2011, and we did have a rudimentary system even then for tracking the pyroclastic density currents coming down the slopes of the volcano. "It wasn't quite a real-time application, but we hope with this kind of work that we can improve those algorithms and make them more of an automated alarm system." The equipment at Kennedy has been temporary, but the team is looking for a permanent installation. Like everyone, Glenn and Steve are particularly looking forward to the launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy vehicle in the New Year. The Heavy should produce nearly 23 meganewtons of thrust at lift-off, more than any rocket in operation today. It is sure to make for some interesting seismic and infrasound signals. Glenn Thompson and Steve McNutt detailed their work here at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union[2]. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter:@BBCAmos[3][4]


  1. ^ Glenn's and Steve's equipment caught information not apparent in that film (
  2. ^ detailed their work here at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (
  3. ^ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (
  4. ^ @BBCAmos (

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Real Madrid 1-0 Gremio - BBC Sport

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his seventh Club World Cup goal

Real Madrid became the first team to win back-to-back Club World Cup titles as Cristiano Ronaldo's second-half free-kick beat Brazilian side Gremio.

Zinedine Zidane's side dominated from the start but found chances difficult against well-organised opposition.

But Ronaldo got the breakthrough with a well-struck effort from 25 yards.

It is a record-equalling third Club World Cup win for Real, who also triumphed in 2014, matching Barcelona's achievement.

More to follow....

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Austria far right: Freedom Party wins key posts in new government

Sebastian Kurz and Heinz-Christian Strache shake hands and smile for the cameras at their joint press conference in ViennaImage copyright AFP Image caption Sebastian Kurz (R) has agreed a coalition deal with far-right party leader Heinz-Christian Strache

The far-right Freedom Party has secured the key posts of foreign, interior and defence in Austria's new coalition government for its nominees.

Governing with the conservative People's Party, the move makes Austria the only country in Western Europe to have a far-right party in power.

Austria's president approved the new coalition on Saturday, two months after inconclusive elections.

People's Party leader Sebastian Kurz, 31, will be Austria's new chancellor.

He will become the world's youngest head of government.

Introducing the new government, and the 180-page document setting out its agenda, Mr Kurz said the two parties had agreed "on a clear pro-European outlook".

Although it is the junior coalition partner, the anti-immigration Freedom Party has secured several key posts in the new cabinet.

Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache will be vice-chancellor.His party colleagues will run the interior, defence and health and social security ministries.

The new foreign minister will be Middle East expert and writer Karin Kneissl, who is not a Freedom Party member but was nominated by the party.

Mr Kurz's People Party won 32% of the vote in October's elections, securing the largest number of seats (62) in the 183-seat national council.

The Freedom Party came third, securing 26% of the vote and 51 seats.

At the request of Austria's president, the posts of justice minister and interior minister would not be held by the same party, Mr Kurz said.

The chancellor-designate was quick to retweet congratulations from his fellow youthful conservative prime minister, Ireland's Leo Varadkar.

Key posts in right-wing hands

Analysis by Bethany Bell, BBC News, Vienna

Unlike most of Europe's populist parties, the Freedom Party, a major player in Austria for years, has managed to translate its success at the ballot box into real political power.

That's reflected in the key posts that it has secured in this government:the interior, defence and foreign ministries.

The opposition has expressed concern that the police and the security apparatus are now all firmly in the hands of the Freedom Party.

In recent years, the party has toned down some of its more extreme rhetoric.But many analysts believe that, in or out of government, it has helped set a right-wing agenda, not just in Austria - but in other countries across Europe as well.

When the far-right Freedom Party last entered a coalition in Austria in 2000, its fellow EU member states froze bilateral diplomatic relations in response.

They were lifted months later, and such measures are unlikely to happen again, as resurgent right-wing populist groups have been promoting anti-immigration and Eurosceptic agendas across much of the EU.

But unlike the Freedom Party, those other parties have struggled to convert electoral success into real power:

  • Earlier this year, Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front party lost the French presidential election comprehensively.Ms Le Pen was defeated by Emmanuel Macron, a liberal centrist and strong supporter of the European Union
  • Elsewhere, the Dutch anti-immigration Freedom Party of Geert Wilders was defeated by liberal leader Mark Rutte
  • In Germany, the nationalist and populist right of Alternative for Germany (AfD) gained seats in the national parliament, where it is now the third biggest party, but it is not in the frame for coalition talks

Who's who in the new government?

Chancellor: Sebastian Kurz, People's Party.The 31-year-old was foreign minister in the outgoing Austrian government.

Interior minister: Herbert Kickl, Freedom Party.The party's general secretary and campaign director, 49, was a speechwriter for the late party leader Jörg Haider and is a close confidant of the current leader, Hans-Christian Strache.

Foreign minister: Karin Kneissl, nominated by the Freedom Party but not a member.The former foreign ministry employee and Middle East expert, 52, speaks eight languages and is not afraid of controversy, according to Austrian media....


  1. ^ What propels young leaders to power? (

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