Lockdown – reflections at the end of week 19
I am conscious that in recent weeks, these pieces have tended towards commentary in aspects of the United Kingdom under lockdown which are not cheerful. At the end of this week, there are many things to perpetuate the lack of cheer. People are still suffering at the hands of the virus, economic uncertainty remains and the government has, having assured us that everything will be normal by Christmas, now told us to watch out for the second wave in another whirlwind of mixed messages. The north of England has seen aspects of the lockdown relaxation reversed, and a recent survey has shown that remarkably few people in England are confident of their knowledge and understanding of what they need to do to comply with current restrictions. I could go on.
In general, I start to put these pieces together as I wander around the countryside at 6 in the morning with the dog. This morning, in stark contrast to the autumnal wind, rain and cold that we’ve contended with recently, the world looked beautiful as, bathed in sunshine and accompanied by a rising mist, deer and a couple of buzzards, we enjoyed a warmth which was more typical of southern Europe than of rural Suffolk. So the opening paragraph apart, here are some good news stories to balance the gloom
1. Some businesses are thriving, and it’s not just the tech giants and food retailers. By way of example, we heard this week from an SME client which has, in the course of 4 months, turned the potential disaster of not being able to deliver its services on a face to face basis into an online provision which is reaching far larger audiences than ever before and driving increased sales across its business. Whilst this change may have taken place as a gradual evolution without the restrictions which lockdown brought, current circumstances have brought rapid benefits to a company which has been able and willing to adapt from what was, initially, an awful position
2. Whilst there are clear human and economic costs of insolvency, there are many entrepreneurial businesses who are actively looking to buy assets from distressed companies and turn them to new use, creating new employment opportunities along the way. We have seen instances of this in work with our clients this week
3. A survey published this week suggests that the shared experiences of lockdown have engendered a togetherness and community spirit which people have both welcomed and enjoyed. Indeed, a material proportion of respondents to the survey expressed concern that these qualities may dissipate as time passes and boredom, frustration and worry set in. I would hope that if enough people want it, it will stay.
4. UK retail sales increased sharply in June. When added to a similar increase in May, June sales were at around pre-Covid levels. I could give a warning or two here, but, this being the good news edition, I’ll refrain
5. If you live within 5 miles of Brixton prison, you now have a new takeaway food delivery option. The prison’s training restaurant, which trains prisoners for City and Guilds catering qualifications and has a successful track record of its trainees achieving employment after release, will now deliver to you. It is reported that sales have been strong and that whilst there are fancier choices on offer, it’s jerk chicken and katsu curry which have been dominating sales.
6. It’s a great time to be in the business of bicycle repair as the government promises to issue up to 500,000 £50 vouchers to lapsed cyclists toward the cost of repairing their bikes. Whilst this does not constitute investment advice, if the scheme takes off, expect increased sales of lycra; and
7. It’s the Weekend!
Have a good weekend. Normal service will be resumed next week