To be clear, the NTI news bulletin service isn't interested in offering you information you can get from an amusing 'talking dog' on Facebook. But to summarise; lockdown buckles down again on Thursday, 00 Sunak hasn't slept for five days, focused as he is on saving absolutely everyone, even the self-employed who were so angry they had to be stopped in mid-sentence yesterday when they heard that Government support of them was doubling in the next month ("Oh, well that's good, then", they were heard to mumble under their breath as they shuffled away), we are possibly (maybe) going to get a double-dip recession which, under the circumstances, is as newsworthy as a slightly sprained ankle on 'Strictly' ...
... and something about some shops losing income when they are closed.
As an alternative we are offering you a series of 'Who's Up and Who's Down' this Tuesday (3 November). What do you want to hear about first, up or down? (As Ryanair will not be able to say to many passengers over the winter, reporting as they do, a loss of £178 million for the six months to September, compared with profit after tax of over £1 billion in the same period last year). Passenger numbers at the 'no-frills airline', which always maddens frills, as it considers itself to be above such comparisons, fell by 80 per cent to 17 million during the Coro ... blah, blah, blah. Michael O'Leary is spitting green feathers and looking less photogenic than ever in videos of him blaming ... well, pretty much everybody.
We are always amused to hear that Associated British Foods owns Primark, but it is unusual to hear them say that their £2 sweaters are selling less well than their £3 boxes of Dorset Cereals - Fantastically Fruity Muesli. Nonetheless it has reported that enforced closures of the discount fashion retailer's stores has lost it an estimated £2 billion in revenue so far in 2020, with an estimated further £375 million hit from future lost sales over the next lockdown. So, they are definitely 'down'.
IWG, who used to be 'Regus' are down, as well. The FTSE 250 firm posted a 14.3 per cent drop in revenue to £583.3 million in the three months to the end of September, because no-one wants to pay for expensive office space having found a spare room behind the luggage and that old chair their gran gave them five years ago. Despite the ready availability of limitless sparkling water and nice soft furnishings, the hit to its 'service revenue', which usually makes up a quarter of its income, has been impacted. IWG must look forward at a changing world post-Covid and be so glad it owns almost 3,350 big, shiny office buildings around the globe that many now look at as they do big-knit cardigans with wooden toggles.
"The future of commercial property is flexible workspace" they say in their advertising. Ooo, so close. The truth is that "The future of commercial property is in the past." Poor IWG and their 'proven office space business model'.
Time for an upper. As predicted by the NTI newsroom at the beginning of last week, Grant Shapps managed to remember his lines long enough to broker a £1.8 billion bailout deal between the Government and Transport for London at the weekend. So there will be trains and buses and tubes, after all. Phew. Sadiq Khan had to give up on Crossrail 2 as a makeweight to the deal, as the six-month agreement contained a clause forcing TfL to end spending on the latest cross-London railway link that would have been as exciting and (quite literally) groundbreaking as Crossrail 1, which was started by the Victorians and will hopefully serve the robots when they take over the planet in 3,000 years time.
It does seem a little strange, as Crossrail 2 was only going to cost £33 billion (raising to £5,729 billion once they had factored in that it would open 40 years late) and it was described by the national infrastructure commission in 2016 as a 'national priority'. People are gathering all over the north of England this morning with placards screaming, 'Save Our Crossrail 2', and 'London's Second Crossrail Project Is A National Priority', and 'Don't Spend Any More Money On Us'.
Also 'up' today is Wetherspoons, whose pubs will sell pints of ale for 99p to try to clear stock that will otherwise be poured down the drain during our latest lockdown. This is exactly what the country needs; more people out drinking before Thursday and explaining to each other in a drunken way how viral loads are increased by alcoholic intake.
Wizz Air, the low-budget carrier, said that passenger numbers dropped 69 per cent in October as further restrictions came into effect around the world. The low-budget carrier flew 1.15 million passengers last month, down from 3.7 million in the same period last year, but if you name your airline after going for a pee you pretty much deserve what you get.
However, going back to where it all started, economic recovery in China is powering ahead, with factory output expanding at its fastest pace in almost a decade. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose from 53 to 53.6 in October. It is the sixth consecutive month that the index has registered above the 50 mark that signals growth. Thank Baxian, the Chinese god of the Eight Immortals, for a flourishing world market in facemasks, PPE and handgel. That was quite the long-term plan.