This morning, the Office for National Statistics published the GDP data for December. GDP increased by an estimated 7.5% in 2021, following a 9.4% fall in 2020, but it didn't hide the fact that the Omicron variant savaged the retail and broader services sector in December.
As ever, the vast majority of major media outlets have quoted macroeconomists rather than real businesses, many of whom are really struggling right now and need to be heard.
The comments below from Barry Whitehouse who runs an art shop in Banbury, is more powerful than any of the abstract jibber jabber spouted from the city this morning, but the media in all their blindness cannot see it:
"Footfall is visibly lacking in store and in town, and to be honest for the first time I am worried for the future of my shop. Takings in December were around 15% down on the previous December but January and February to date have also been quiet. January was around 50% down on pre-pandemic levels and has left me wondering if I’ve just had my last Christmas as a bricks and mortar retailer."
Another powerful quote came from Jenny Blyth, who runs a gift company, but has it been used yet? Has it hell. "The day-to-day running of our small business is now like wading through treacle and we are fighting a tide of bad news in the form of rising energy bills, inflation and taxes. We were pleased that heading into January our sales were steady but as the cost of living crisis heightened, our sales have nosedived."
And then there's this corker from Dr Jackie Mulligan SFIPM. Again, no-one has run it yet. Why would you when you can quote an economist in a think tank or bank earning £300k+?
“The Omicron variant absolutely decimated trade in December for countless high street retail businesses. The result is that many, sadly, are now struggling to survive. To make matters worse, inflation is hitting small high street businesses from all angles. Customers have less to spend, raw materials are costing more, supply chains are being squeezed, interest rates are on the up and the cost to heat their premises is skyrocketing. We estimate that at least a third of businesses on the high street will be relying on Valentine's Day to help them address the losses they experienced over Christmas."
The media are so out of touch it's frightening. They need to start quoting real businesses and engaging with real people or they'll never stop the rot.
More quotes from real businesses below.