Energy Bills and Lipstick

Posted on Jul 01, 2024. by NTI

With the news constantly focussing whether Gareth Southgate is the right man to be the next Prime Minister, or whether Keir Starmer has the right policies to bring football home (or something like that), some news may have slipped under your radar.

And it’s good news.  For now.

A drop in domestic gas and electricity prices has now taken effect, with Ofgem's new price cap for England, Wales and Scotland coming into force today (Monday 1 July), meaning a typical household's energy bill will fall by £122 a year to £1,568 a year, the lowest for two years.

The bad news - forecasters expect it to rise again in the run-up to winter, more than reversing the latest drop as a 10% rise is predicted.  "Modest falls in summer look set to be wiped out by bigger rises in autumn when people will need to put the heating back on," said Adam Scorer, chief executive of charity National Energy Action. "The cost of energy remains an unaffordable luxury that many of the poorest simply cannot afford."

In addition, households have built up a collective debt to suppliers of about £3bn owing, primarily, to the pressure from high prices.

In more light-hearted news, the Guardian reported over the weekend that some alternative measures of the economy that aren’t covered in your average Insolvency Service or Office for National Statistics press release.  These include underwear, uniform patches and lipstick.

Let’s start with uniform patches, which are the emblems sown onto uniforms worn by employees, being used as an alternative measure compared to unemployment statistics.  Randy Carr (can you tell he’s American with a name like that), CEO of the Florida-based company World Emblem told USA Today that sales are up 19% year on year.

When times are good, men gravitate towards more expensive material for their underwear. When money’s tight, one can expect them to be worn until the holes are more than the material.  And to the numbers: men’s underwear sales have been mostly flat over the past 12 months at brands including Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.

For the most part, lipstick is a relatively inexpensive accessory.  History has shown that women will cut back on more expensive beauty goods like makeup and perfume when times are tight. But lipstick seems to buck that trend, with its percentage of sales in the sector as a whole increasing when times get tough. L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and Ulta Beauty have all shown strong revenue gains over the past year.

« Back to articles