Wednesday 28 April 2021

Pandemenomics for UK plc

Quite a bumpy set of results out from major UK companies today. Big banks like Lloyds Bank and HSBC have returned to strong profits already. Plenty of transactions for them, a buoyant housing market and growing business sector have helped them. Additionally, as I wrote here a couple of weeks ago, there is no recession likely now for a long time, so they have been able to reduce provisions for bad debts. 

On the other hand, Dixons has closed all of its airport shops. What am I going to do when bored at the airport if not look at the over-priced electronics and gadgets for a few minutes? This is due to both Brexit, with the UK ending airside tax breaks and also the pandemic with passenger numbers likely to be low for a long time to come. 

Sainsbury's has chosen a kitchen sink moment too (this is when the CEO decides to out all bad news at once with an excuse, such that they can do better in future and earn their options then). The excuse is covid but how the only shops to stay open in Covid lost money is beyond me. My local Sainsbury's has been heaving with people all the time. The truth must be that the internal re-organisation has been less successful and cost more / saved less than thought by some margin - but covid is a better excuse to use to try to bamboozle investors. 

it is good to see the banks joining in the profit making and seeing happy days ahead - these days banks are very conservative so that is a strong position to take. On the other hand, Dixons shows and example of how airports are going to look very different in the future, this scarring will be very deep in the travel sector and maybe will take a decade to repair. 


djm said...

I wrote here a couple of weeks ago, there is no recession likely now for a long time.......... Stunning & Brave prediction....


Sainsbury's, on a busy Saturday morning only 3 tills were open and the self-service ones are smaller that at Tescos and Morrisons so it's very cramped. They also stopped selling the German rye breads so why bother, especially when the safe spaces the CEO announced are always packed.

Bill Quango MP said...

Sainsbury’s at the lockdown height, we’re in the Tesco panic mode.
That giant superstore on the M5 had adapter, quite cleverly, their door counter that tracks customer numbers, to tell the Covid guard when to let more people in.

I counted 200 in the queue with me. All singles as now couples allowed.
The counter the Covid marshal was using was 30.

30 people in the store at any one time. That is less than one per aisle in that store. They have 15 lanes and the self service.

More likely to catch Covid queuing to go in, than from going in. One way. Item limits. Very strict policing of it all.

I have not been back since. That’s about a year ago now.

Lidl, Aldi, Morrison’s, ( after a panicky start) on the other hand, did what HMG suggested. Not more, or less. And were busy throughout.

Sobers said...

My mother shops at Sainsburys, I do her online shop for her, so I have a decent idea of what stock availability is like, from the stuff that doesn't turn up in her order. And they are shocking. Every order contains missing items that were supposedly in stock, but weren't when the order was picked, even when ordering there are things that are unavailable from the shelves for weeks on end. The website is awful, the search facility for example manages to take a 2 word description and searches for each individual word, rather than the combination of the two words, and then provide all the results mixed together. So if you search for 'beef crisps' you get all the results that have 'beef' in them plus all those with 'crisps' in them too. The favourites page loses items you buy regularly, they just disappear without trace, yet an item you bought once a year ago is still there. The whole thing is utterly pants. The IT director needs sacking for starters.

dearieme said...

Waitrose are in decline. My wife was there yesterday, partly to buy some items that had been omitted from our delivery. She said that there were gaps all over the shelves. She's going to go to Morrison's tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Trouble is Waitrose have some things that only they do, like the excellent chickpea/spinach/quinoa microwave bags - I wish Aldi would do them, they'd be half the price. Their own brand Earl Grey tea is good as well - only Sainsbury of the supermarkets come anywhere close to their quality.

Generally I'm a Lidl devotee with occasional outings to the Aldi central aisle - still regretting the log splitter I didn't buy in 2017, but their chainsaw and electric saw are still going three years on, cut a lot of wood in that time.

Don Cox said...

" manages to take a 2 word description and searches for each individual word, rather than the combination of the two words"

Have you tried putting quote marks around the two-word phrase ? That works on some search engines.

But I'm sure you're right that the IT manager needs sacking. Finding somebody better to a a replacement may be another matter, especially if "diversity" rules.

Don Cox

E-K said...

Waitrose left our town several years ago. It was replaced with a Lidl.

A depressing contrast. A case of use it or lose it. We used to do our main shop at Morrisons and get the nice bits at Waitrose. Bye bye Waitrose.

Now we do the main shop at lidl and get the nice bits at Morrisons.

What a come down. And now I need spectacles to see, viagra to get it up and my physio says I need knee surgery to get down.

It looks like a recession from where I'm sitting.

Timbo614 said...

You've recovered then CU, great to see.

On supermarket deliveries I have to say Tesco seem to have it about right. Have always turned up at the booked time. Rarely anything missing. As for banks, well everyone tapping away touch free was bound to make a profit for them and yes I did buy HSBC when HSBC were out of favour (especially over HK). At least dividends are back for all my financial sector shares now :)

APL said...

"Big banks like Lloyds Bank and HSBC have returned to strong profits already."

We'll see. Wait until we find the consequence of a years worth of small business destruction on their customers businesses.

Even with the looming end of the lockdown, it may take some time for customers to return to the pubs and restaurants.

A lot of discretionary spending is habitual, and a year of abstinence is long enough to destroy a habit.

formertory said...

Completely agree with Sobers. I get to do the shopping and cooking these days and I've started to split it between Sainsburys (for a few things in their ranges I particularly like) and Tesco (again, for stuff of theirs that I like and the fact that Tesco is noticeably cheaper on most mainstream items). It's pretty much a certainty that the notification email from Sainsbarg's on delivery / collection day will start with "we're sorry, some of the items you ordered aren't available". Tesco is much more reliable, and the online ordering much better organised.

I occasionally drive past my local Sainsbarg Superstore and keep expecting to see the paint peeling of it. It feels like an organisation that's really struggling.

formertory said...

Sorry. Paint peeling *off* it, of course.

Anonymous said...

I work with quite a few ex-Sainsbury's head office people - I get the impression morale there is pretty low, with regular restructurings people are choosing to leave before they are potentially pushed out.

I also get the impression that Sainsbury's has a fairly big woke culture - so business results are probably secondary to ensuring more important things are happening like sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

We use Sainsbury's delivery and can echo others comments. There's 3 items we buy each week and for the last 4 weeks these have been out of stock on the website. Go into the store and there's always been plenty of stock of all of these items.

Matt said...

Can agree with Woke in relation to Sainsbury's. We buy cream from them via delivery service and 8 times out of 10 it'll have leaked all over the other shopping. Why is this? Because the idiots removed the plastic lid that provided the strength around the top and left a flimsy tear off instead.
I've asked them numerous times to reinstate the lid and the delivery people tell me the same. They hate it as they have to clean the boxes when they leak.

More important to Sainsbury's to save flipper from choking on that plastic than make their customers/staff happy. Plus they refund me not only the cream but the cost of anything else it leaks on.

CityUnslicker said...

Interesting feedback re Sainsbury's my local one is always doing OK business but I have never ordered online. Am a lifer with Ocado now and quite pleased with the M&S transition that has annoyed everyone else!

Sobers said...

I have to admit that I just checked the Sainsburys website search facility and its seems to be working perfectly now (at the moment at least). A search for beef crisps brings up just packets of beef crisps. That certainly wasn't the case a while back, I once searched for something and got about 12 pages of results as the two words were common. So someone is doing their job at least. Perhaps they read this comment thread :)

Anonymous said...

OT but you have to laugh - "New Stateperson" tries to stir the pot.

"Dominic Cummings has been playing Boris Johnson for far longer than he realises. The question is why the Prime Minister ever let someone as untrustworthy as Cummings remain next to him."

Now I think Boris adds to the gaiety of nations, and is probably the best PM we currently have (out of an appalling field), but the picture of poor innocent Boris all unknowingly harbouring Viper Dom in his bosom - "it is to laugh".

Boris is the man of whom his editor (Max Hastings?) said "I would not trust him with either my wife or my wallet". I think he can look after himself, although I very much regret the estrangement - Boris needs a get-it-done person and Dom seemed pretty good.

I wish they'd kiss and make up - or at least talk to each other rather than via briefings and blog posts. The reason Dom had a lot of enemies is the same as why Mandelson and Campbell had - being too effective.

E-K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E-K said...

Why there will be nothing 'normal' about the new normal and why ye olde life is never coming back.

Covid Marshalling is now an established government function and so will never be relinquished.

E-K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The dailymail link says more about you than your usual whining dross.

E-K said...

Have this from another quality journal as well then.

At the end of next month I get my second jab. I'll start wearing my mask exemption lanyard immediately. Yes. Wearing a mask 6 hours a day is driving me a little nuts - alas, lip reading will still remain difficult as other's will still be wearing theirs (I have bad tinnitus - working too close to big machinery for over 30 years.)

I'll actually enjoy seeing broadsheet-reading fools' scared little eyes - with faces stripped of expression and individuality - peering above their soggy muzzles.

I am aghast (utterly aghast) at our so-called intelligent class's vulnerability to being manipulated and controlled like this.

Jan said...



There are plenty there who completely agree with you

E-K said...

Thank you Jan.

E-K said...

I am not and never have been a denier. We have allowed the Gonk class to take over.

Al said...

On the Dixons/airport front.
I am long on travel by car-ferry/Chunnel.
I can't see people coming back to a position of trust on a flying holiday.
However with your own transport and the associated level of autonomy and comfort that driving provides will be popular. (Waiting 6 hours in a car for a test Vs 6 hours queuing at an airport is more comfortable, and less covidy. You can make a dash for the border if situations are changing / drive to get tested / Chunnel has huge capacity. ) Just not sure what companies to go long on.