You may have seen occasional suggestions recently that 2009 is likely to be a bit of a rotter, economy-wise. But in the first full week of the New Year, the news from the high street has been surprisingly cheerful: Sainsbury’s was the star of the show, smashing City forecasts with a bumper sales hike, but we also saw impressive figures from pizza delivery chain Domino’s and high street baker Greggs, while John Lewis also had a stonking week. Even high street laggards Debenhams and Next reported better-than-expected sales (albeit they just weren’t as bad as predicted). Only M&S spoiled the party, announcing 1,300 job cuts after a fairly miserable Christmas period.
No party-pooping over at Threadneedle Street, however, where the Bank of England voted to cut interest rates again to a British record low. Those fun-loving japesters on the MPC are just desperate for us to spend our money in the January sales, rather than put it in a boring savings account (prudence is so 2008). To be fair, they had no shortage of economic gloom to worry about: Nationwide said house prices fell at a record rate in 2008, while china-maker Waterford Wedgwood and music retailer Zavvi became the latest firms to call in the administrators (now there’s a good business to be in at the moment).
Unfortunately not everyone has the same level of job security as restructuring experts. Over in Ireland, Dell sank another tranquiliser dart into the flagging Celtic Tiger by axing 1,900 people at its Limerick plant (presumably it failed to read the CIPD’s warning about the hidden cost of redundancy on Monday), while UK firms warned that things were just as bad on this side of the Irish Sea. Looks like there might be a few people taking advantage of the Church of England’s new redundancy prayers in the coming months. But some things never change: none of this stopped 2.4m people pulling a sickie on Monday...
And it’s not all bad news: some UK industries are still ploughing ahead. Take the high-tech space: Dr. Mike Lynch, the founder of Autonomy, has just come out on top of MT’s annual list of Britain’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs. Check out our brand new microsite at http://top100entrepreneurs.com/.
In today's bulletin:
Happy New Year for John Lewis, Jessops and JD
Foxtons plight provokes Minimal sympathy
Eidos bemoans Lara Croft's unimpressive figures
MT's Week in 60 Seconds
Innovation tips, from YouTube