THIS year, there has not been a must-have Christmas present that has flown off the shelves as quickly as it can be restocked.
From Thunderbirds’ Tracey Island to the space ranger from Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear, to the Nintendo Wii, most years have products which demand for has escalated (or been artificially created) to levels that could never be satisfied.
The 2010 version, Microsoft’s Kinect motion controller, is a pale shadow of previous stampedes. Going around the shops at the weekend, one retailer had its A-frame out saying it had Kinect in stock.
It seemed almost apologetic in tone. After all, what is Christmas shopping without mass panic from parents?
The rampant consumerism associated with this time of year is noticeable now for its lack of rampantness.
The chill wind we are experiencing is both meteorological and economic.
Retailers are trying to be upbeat, but sales are being described as “good” rather than “great”, and the word “quite” is prevalent. “Quite good”, “quite busy” and “quite happy” does not a recovery make.
Christmas ends two days early this year, with an economic epiphany expected on January 4.
The increase in VAT to 20% is going to hurt, and it may inhibit those people that feel confident to spend to keep their hands in their pockets and wait to see how it plays out in the first quarter.
Visibility remains poor, yet economic forecasts continue to be upbeat. Vague, vacuous even, but upbeat all the same.
“The media” is regularly blamed for making a difficult situation worse, with critics warning that we could still talk ourselves out of a recovery.
We could also try and spend our way out of the malaise, but talk is cheap so that’s the preferred option.
The difficulty is at what point does talking positively become a reprise of Nero’s fiddling?
One of the lessons that is quickly being forgotten from the credit crunch is about the way that those with bearish views were painted as doom-mongers and largely ignored.
Debates between bears and bulls can be instructive. It’s never good for it to be just bull.
THE problems facing Cains, as revealed today by LDP Business, explain how fragile its attempt is to rebuild itself.
It is sobering to consider the future of the brewer, which employs 70 people in Liverpool.
There is the view that publication of the firm’s financial position undermines the directors’ attempts to shore up its precarious position, endangering those jobs.
But after careful consideration – as you already know from our page one news story – we chose to publish.
First and foremost, Cains is a major Liverpool firm, and its performance is newsworthy, good or bad, robust or rocky. This is especially true as these accounts were the first since coming out of administration in September, 2008.
The details are also important to the companies that work with the brewer, who could be putting their own futures at risk by extending credit.
There is the maxim of equity that one who comes into equity must come with clean hands.
Sudarghara and Ajmail Dusanj would rather we didn’t publish the details of the accounts.
They would definitely not want us to highlight the fact that they paid themselves £506,000 in the first two years.
Cains beers are well-regarded, but that figure leaves a very sour taste.