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Retailers enjoyed a "spectacular" Christmas, official data showed, with total sales growing at their fastest rate in years.

Habitat's credit insurance risk

Credit insurers have threatened to withdraw cover to suppliers of Habitat, the home furnishing chain, if it is bought by Hilco, the retail restructuring group..

Hilco close to acquiring Habitat

Hilco, the retail restructuring firm, is leading the race to acquire the ailing furniture chain Habitat and a deal could be unveiled in days.

Merciless Ikea memoir flat-packs a punch

Former executive's explosive book rips the cosy façade off the Swedish furniture giant

Ikea: Flat pack and fabulous

Cheap, practical and loved across the globe, Ikea designs have become modern classics. As the ubiquitous Billy bookcase enters its fourth decade, Kate Watson-Smyth asks the experts to select their favourite pieces

BILLY bookcase goes bling

Turning thirty this month, IKEA’s bestseller gets a funky makeover for limited editions

Leading article: The Swedish standard

For years the Big Mac has led a double life. It's been feeding hungry people around the world, and its price has been a new gold standard of a sort, by which the real value of currencies has been judged. We have The Economist magazine to thank for this ingenuity.

Martin Hickman: Shopping – the free and easy way

A stranger turned up at my door last week expecting a free cot. I helped her load it into her car. A few days later a 28-inch Sony Trinitron widescreen TV appeared in our front room, delivered by two sweating neighbours.

Hit & Run: Twinning streak

Before they divided into separate embryos, Bob and Mike Bryan existed, briefly, as a single zygote. Thirty-one years later, the identical twins have become the greatest doubles pair of their generation. Now gunning for their 55th pro title and eighth grand slam at this week's US Open, the Americans have been described as playing as if they were still a single organism. While most pairs talk strategy between points, Bob and Mike rarely appear to communicate. "The Bryans have an unfair advantage," Daniel Nestor, one of their rivals on the doubles tour, said this week. "They have that little ESP thing going."

Midsummer, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Only in Edinburgh might you find a rom-com which has ditties about the worst hangover in the world, a mist-wreathed Ikea car-park and a night of Japanese rope bondage gone wrong. For all that, though, Midsummer, "a play with songs" written by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre from the indie band Ballboy, remains desperately romantic.

Why the 2009 ‘staycation’ will save high street home shops

Home is where the holiday is, says Annie Deakin who discovers IKEA, John Lewis and The Conran Shop’s summer campaigns

Games Review: The Sims 3

Mac, PC, EA, £39.99

The Hobbit House: A quiet revolution

Simon Dale spent just three months building his woodland home in Wales. Clare Dwyer Hogg reports

Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s Globe, London

Star-crossed and fatally miscast

Pimp my Ikea: How to bling up your 'Billy' bookcase

What happened when we let the cream of up-and-coming British design talent loose on three basic pieces from the Scandinavian home-furnishing giant?
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Dubrovnik & the Dalmatian Coast
Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum