House of Commons
No business scheduled
Sustainable shopper surge
Written by Sabina Kadić-Mackenzie, associate partner
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner
28 October 2020
I never thought I would be the type of parent to purchase an “affirmation poster” for my child. But, this morning, I am the proud owner of not one, but two. Both are awaiting their place on the walls of my daughters’ rooms. After a swift boast on social media about my purchase, and consequent enquiries from acquaintances, no fewer than four parents I know are now also eagerly awaiting their identical prints in the post, affirming their own child’s (*cough*) individuality.
Such is the power of Notonthehighstreet, a retailer that in recent years has so successfully captured the mood of a nation, in tune with its customers’ social and environmental concerns and their desire for sustainable, personalised and often (though not in my case) unique items. A retailer that – for those very reasons – has been, for the most part, resilient to the impact of a pandemic on the retail sector, as consumers become all the more particular about their relationship with goods.
It’s little surprise, then, that at a time when the number of sustainable shoppers in Britain has increased by a third in the last 12 months, Notonthehighstreet is being circled by a number of trade bidders and private equity groups, reportedly expressing an interest in buying the company, which currently acts as a marketplace for 5,000 small business owners.
Founded in 2006 at a kitchen table, today the online personalised gifts retailer is said to be in talks with the investment bank Evercore on an auction which could see it valued at more than £200m.
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that, in the absence of certainty elsewhere, eco-conscious and sustainable consumption is one of the few things in pandemic life that we can control.
And it’s not just online retailers that are benefiting. Consumers are also making increasingly frequent “near me” searches about sustainable retail in “physical” shops and spaces, benefiting those that are in tune with a shift in consumer behaviour, however incremental it may be. A trend that has, it seems, not passed under the radar at Asda. Just last week, the leading supermarket unveiled a brand-new sustainability concept store in Middleton, Leeds, featuring product refill options, loose and unwrapped produce, recyclable facilities, and sustainable fashion.
Whether online or on the high street, sustainable retail is here to stay. The measure of success will be how many are ready and agile to embrace it as Covid-19 transforms consumer behaviour – for the better, it might be said.
From next Monday, pubs and restaurants in certain areas of Scotland will be able to serve alcohol indoors again, the first minister has announced. The move would allow licensed premises in level two of the country’s new five-tier system to serve alcohol with a meal until 20:00, whereas in level three areas they will be able to stay open until 18:00 but cannot serve alcohol.
YouGov’s globalism survey in 25 countries shows striking variations in terms of approval for governments’ handling of the pandemic. In Denmark, four in five respondents thought their government had done very or fairly well while 67% of respondents in Germany – with a death rate the same as Denmark’s – said they thought Angela Merkel’s government had handled the crisis very or fairly well.
Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden attacked President Donald Trump during a campaign foray into traditionally Republican territory, saying that Mr Trump’s handling of coronavirus amounted to a “capitulation“. While the race is tight in critical battleground states, according to opinion polls, Mr Trump lags behind with a week to go.
Business and economy
The Scottish government has unveiled an inward investment strategy that seeks to attract 50 leading global companies to Scotland. Priority areas include the shift to renewable energy, exploitation of space, decarbonisation of transport, software and health technology. (£)
The chief executives of Facebook and Twitter are expected to defend Section 230, a provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, during an appearance in front of the Senate commerce committee taking place today. The law – which has come under fierce scrutiny – protects tech firms from liability for content published on their platforms, and allows them to remove posts that are harmful, even if they do not break the law.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday and pent-up demand have resulted in UK house prices jumping again in September by three percent year on year, as shown by the latest house price index from property website Zoopla. This is the strongest growth experienced in two and a half years.
The UK internal market bill is set to be blocked by the House of Lords next month, throwing up an early test of relations with Joe Biden if he wins next week’s US election. Biden has warned that the bill undermines the Northern Ireland peace process and that he would never sign a trade deal with the UK unless key clauses were removed. (£)
Columns of note
What would be your first reaction to someone sharing their belief in QAnon’s conspiracy theories? If it is to mock, that would be wrong, Sue Greenwood argues in the Guardian. If that worked, conspiracy theories wouldn’t have gained so much traction in the UK. Instead, we need to gain better understanding of both the persistence of conspiracies and the persistence of what feeds them.
In the Financial Times, Carey Cavanaugh sheds light into the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is close to reach an irreversible point. And while the fog on the battlefield makes it hard to know exactly what is happening on the ground, one thing is clear – the human cost is high. (£)
What happened yesterday?
London stocks moved into the red, as investors weighed up better-than-expected earnings from the likes of BP and HSBCm against the backdrop of growing concerns about a new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The FTSE 100 went down 1.09% at 5,728.99, and the FTSE 250 was 1.49% weaker at 17,587.71.
In the meantime, sterling performed more strongly, gaining 0.28% on the dollar to $1.3061, and advancing 0.15% against the euro to €1.1046.
Wall Street’s main indexes were in mixed state, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 0.48%, to 27,553.38, the S&P 500 going down 0.05%, to 3,399.26 while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.61%, to 11,427.86.
In company news:
Brewdog is drawing plans to raise £50m by January in its last equity crowdfunding effort, after beating initial funding goal of its Equity for Punks Tomorrow programme last month.
Danish brewer Carlsberg posted better-than-expected beer sales in the third quarter and raised its full-year earnings guidance, thanks to strong sales in Russia and China.
German car maker Mercedes-Benz is set to take a 20% stake in Aston Martin as the as part of a surprise £1.25bn rescue deal. (£)
US jeweller Tiffany and LVMH are discussing new terms for their merger as it emerged the pair are in talks to renegotiate the planned $16bn (£12bn) takeover.
What’s happening today?
Gem Diamonds Di
UK economic announcements
(00:01) BRC Shop Price Index
(10:00) CBI Distributive Trades Surveys
Int. economic announcements
(11:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(14:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
(14:00) Consumer Confidence (US)
The first ever speeding fine was given to Walter Arnold of Kent, in January 1896. His speed: 8mph in a 2mph zone. He was caught by a policeman on a bicycle.
House of Commons
No business scheduled
House of Lords
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill – committee stage (day 2) – Lord Callanan
high street retailers affected by the restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic – Lord Rose of Monewden
Protecting victims of domestic abuse – Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate
Improving the speed of test results for COVID-19 – Lord Scriven
Orders and regulations
Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill – committee stage – Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
Portfolio Questions: Constitution, Europe and External Affairs; Economy, Fair Work and Culture
Ministerial Statement: Miners’ Strike Review
Ministerial Statement: Winter Preparedness in the NHS
Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee debate: Energy inquiry
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
Approval of SSIs (if required)
Members’ Business — S5M-22911 Colin Beattie: 30th Anniversary of German Reunification
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