Brighter Days to Come
Things can only get better.
These were, perhaps, the most over-used five words of 2020 as the year drew to a close, appearing across all types of media appealing to the British psyche of staying positive amidst a crisis.
They even featured as a slogan inside festive gift cards and other paraphernalia as publishers read the room and hastily updated their stock. Today, these words, first immortalised by 90’s pop band D:Ream and used by the Labour Party to herald in the dawn of a new political era in 1997, have even more resonance now we are all back in national lockdown.
As the sun rises on 2021, we can only hope the government’s vaccination program outpaces the resurgence of coronavirus across this land and the rays of light do, indeed, get above the horizon.
Businesses, regardless of industry, face tough weeks and months ahead. The retail, leisure and hospitality sectors have had, perhaps, the toughest hand of cards to deal with. Open. Closed. Open but with restrictions, depending on which tier you’re in. Closed, again.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has now announced the availability of a grant of up to £9,000 per property for these businesses. Some solace, at least, but not likely to touch the sides for many who have probably taken as many punches as they can realistically handle.
The mortgage market, meanwhile, continues to punt along at a rate of knots. According to latest statistics, lenders approved more than 100,000 mortgages in November; a 13-year high. Allied Surveyors can continue to play its part following clearance from the Scottish Government to enter homes for the purposes of conducting Home Reports for mortgage valuations.
In tandem with a recovering stock market, the FTSE 100 rose nearly 3% when trading re-opened, and continued low interest rates, governments on both sides of the border will hope consumer and business spend boosts ailing coffers.
And then there’s Brexit. A deal was struck, finally, at the eleventh hour but the devil is, as always, in the detail. So far there hasn’t been a return to the queues of trucks we witnessed prior to Christmas at the Port of Dover and exporters will inevitably take some time to get to grips with the new post-Brexit systems. But at least it’s finally done and dusted and we can all move on.
I spoke with one such exporter on Christmas Eve regarding an office we’re marketing and which he has his eye on for expansion purposes. His business purely sells to countries in the European Union so queues of trucks snaking through the Kent countryside, along with the new morass of red tape, was enough to have him reaching for the brandy. And don’t even mention the threat of a second independence referendum lurking in the background.
So, there’s much to ponder and think about as businesses embark on what lies ahead of them this year. I for one am remaining positive and upbeat about the prospects. Shrouding ourselves in endless doses of negativity will get us nowhere fast and the vaccine does provide us with a route out, albeit the timetable is somewhat subject to change.
After all, things can only get better.