2018 was a funny old year, with the World Cup, a blazing heatwave, and the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over us. Let’s take a look back over the last 12 months, with Croner-i’s roundup of what happened in UK business, finance, and industry in 2018.

You can see the full, detailed roundup in Business Focus, available in Croner-i tax, accounting, and audit products.

See the month-by-month news here, and an analysis of the year’s industry trends here.



  • After a lacklustre Christmas for the high street, retailers saw around £2.5 billion of returned online purchases
  • Visa data showed that spending fell (by 0.3%) for January for the first time in five years
  • Deloitte analysis showed a rise in the number of retailers falling into administration
  • Construction giant Carillion collapsed
  • The credit and debit card transaction surcharge came into effect



  • The Winter Olympics kicked off in Pyeongchang, South Korea
  • Maplin and Toys R Us went into administration
  • A number of major retailers announced they were cutting jobs, including the ‘big three’ supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda)
  • Halifax said house price growth had slowed to the lowest pace in five years, while Nationwide reported a fall in house prices



  • The ‘Beast from the East’ caused widespread disruption, with the bad weather affecting travel, power, and schools
  • New Look, Prezzo, and Carpetright announced store closures, while Bargain Booze and Wine Rack signalled financial difficulties
  • The Chancellor’s Spring Statement forecast growth of 1.5%, predicted inflation falling to 2%, and committed to reducing the impact of plastic on the environment
  • Visa said household spending fell at the fastest rate for five years, down 2.1% compared with the previous year



  • Over Easter weekend, retailers reported poor sales – despite price reductions of up to 70% – partly because the weather was still terrible and affecting footfall on the high street
  • In fact, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said retailers’ performance during April 2018 was the worst on record
  • Nielsen Shop Price Index reported a 1% year-on-year fall in average retail prices, though food price inflation rose 1.4%
  • The Soft Drinks Industry Levy came into effect, making sugary drinks more expensive



  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding gave restaurants and pubs an economic boost
  • ONS figures showed a 3.9% rise in retail sales volumes – most likely due to the Royal Wedding and warmer weather
  • Credit rating agency Fitch said UK households were borrowing more than they were saving, with household debt rising rapidly
  • The much-awaited GDPR came into effect
  • Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest



  • The hot weather continued, with the Met Office reporting that many areas had the hottest and driest June on record
  • The US imposed a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% on aluminium – so the EU, Canada, and other countries imposed retaliatory tariffs
  • Unemployment fell to 4%, the lowest level in 40 years
  • ONS figures showed a 0.4% growth in GDP for the quarter, likely thanks to the World Cup, heatwave, and Royal Wedding
  • In international news, Saudi Arabia allowed women to drive



  • The blazing heat didn’t stop, with temperatures exceeding 33 degrees – it was so intense, in fact, that farmers warned of possible vegetable shortages
  • The government released its white paper setting out proposals for the UK’s relationship with the EU after Brexit, which was, unsurprisingly, met with controversy
  • Boris Johnson and David Davis subsequently resigned



  • Apple Inc. became the world’s first public company worth $1 trillion
  • Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley bought House of Fraser out of administration
  • The ONS reported regular weekly earnings were up 3.1%



  • The Bank of England warned about ‘greater uncertainty’ over Brexit – a no-deal scenario was becoming likely
  • Debenhams shares plunged, amid fears that the company was about to collapse



  • The Autumn Budget introduced a digital services tax on big tech companies; froze duty rates on beer, cider, spirits, and fuel; and increased annual investment allowance to £1 million
  • Brexit negotiations continued, amongst which the BCC warned that the economy was flat-lining and business confidence was weakening



  • The government released a draft Brexit withdrawal agreement, and several Cabinet members resigned
  • Coincidentally, the sterling fell significantly



  • HMV went into administration right at the end of the year
  • Parliament’s vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal was pushed back, and Brexit discussions took up so much time overall that it didn’t have time to pass the Autumn Budget yet either


Keep up to date with trends across all the most important industries in the UK with Business Focus in Croner-i.  

Business Focus

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