Have you seen the news today?

The front and back pages of the FT made grim reading this morning.

All of the following are direct quotes from the front or back pages of the main section:

  • Sales of home hair-dye kits and frozen food are surging as a Depression-era mentaility sets in across Britain, the head of Asda said yesterday
  • He warned that, as in the 1930s, the severity of the downturn would change consumer behaviour for a generation
  • Sales of ‘gimmicky throw away gifts’ for adults have collapsed
  • The most popular Christmas gift at Asda this year will be a jumper [watch out chaps…]
  • Sales of ready meals at Asda have dropped 40% as people choose instead to buy ingredients and cook from scratch
  • At Tesco, sales of coffee makers and thermos flasks are up 75% as people opt for home-made drinks instead of shop-bought lattes
  • A survey of 2,500 Asda customers showed more than half were going out less and almost 40% had reduced their visits to the hairdresser, a service usually seen as recession proof [I think it is very dangerous to view any business as recession proof]
  • October this year was the 1929 Crash equivalent for the debt markets
  • Fear of financial ‘Armageddon’ is staring private equity of funds, one investor warned yesterday
  • Woolworths holds its last sale [I used to love that shop as a kid :(]
  • Some 30,000 Woolworths staff face a bleak mid-winter
  • Begbies Traynor, the insolvency specialist, has 323 retailers on a ‘critical watch list’ defined as 70%+ chance of failing
  • It has been a hellish week for the newspaper industry.  Tribune, owner of the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune, filed for bankruptcy, while the New York Times Company hocked its new Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper
  • Worse still was the collapse of confidence in the sector’s ability to reinvent itself for the digital age

Wow!

The consumer is on her knees, the retail sector is in deep trouble and for newspapers it is even worse than that.

And I didn’t include excerpts from articles on the US car industry and Boeing.

At the end of the day this is just a cycle, a bad one, but just a cycle.  Things will get better.  All we can do at the moment is plan for the worst and hope for better.  Reading all of this has lowered my expectations of how bad the worst might be.