Vote, vote, vote again and then a bus comes….

It is the proverbial bus analogy you wait ages for one then they all come together. Ironically buses of late have taken a political hue, as they seem to be the weapon of choice for various political parties . A strange choice when most of us don’t have an particularly good relationship with them. We are either fed up waiting for one, cheesed off stuck behind one or really hacked off because we have just been cut up by one. There again, I suppose it is not dissimilar to our relationship with political parties.

Our new national hobby of regularly popping off to the ballot box is quite tame compared to somewhere like Italy who has had more than 65 governments since 1945.  However ,there is a large chunk of the UK’s population who vote most Saturday nights for someone or something on tv talent shows. 

But what does it mean for all of us ? On a day to day basis, it is six weeks of media political bla bla. Promises, lies, hypothetical tosh and ‘we are better than the others, cos we say so..the NHS is no danger…we will raise/lower your taxes….we love everybody….we will lead you to the promised land…’. However, the consequences of this bun fight, is those who don’t really care , will carry on as before , those who consider the options, will do exactly that, and consider. They are unlikely to make extraneous or unnecessary purchases because of the uncertainties that come with an election especially this one. Ultimately, we are not talking about huge changes but it is the small percentage changes that make the  big differences in running a business in today’s climate.

If we were a nation such as the Italians, or the Belgians who had  no government for nearly two years making little difference, we would probably ignore the political shenanigans. But we are not . We are certainly a nation of the indifferent and the concerned. I am certainly in the ‘concerned ‘ camp, not from the outcome perspective, but from the importance of having a vote to influence any particular outcome. For the ‘ unconcerned ‘ , who may well believe they can’t make any difference whatever they do, this is one opportunity that if you think all politicians are the same , return a spoilt ballot paper. If a chunk of those who regularly don’t vote returned spoilt ballot papers, this could represent a substantial portion of the electorate. A 10% return of spoilt ballot papers would have a seismic impact of politicians of any persuasion. 

Not voting has no impact and no say. But what  really gets me going, is the continuous drivel about what Brexit means to you, your job, your wages, the price of fish , the colour of your passport and whether we will sign a fantastic trade deal with Papua New Guinea. Currently it means nothing to anyone because nobody has the slightest idea what it will be. So please, considering that we have to let politicians bleat for six weeks , just tell us what you would like to do as opposed to what you  claim you will do if your aunt was your uncle .

For the rest of us we have to get on with what we do, assume nothing, and plan with what we know rather than considering the impact of the impact of the  Papua New Guinea trade deal. 

Back to buses… maybe it would make life very difficult without them, but nothing like as difficult if we didn’t have the vote .

Financial Crisis ? Avoid dental floss !

The thieving gits ! The penny pinching, mealy mouthed, underhanded bunch of robbing swines!

An esteemed organ of our virtuous press has just discovered that our nation’s supermarkets are making up their ‘weakening ‘ margins by increasing the margins on items they don’t sell much of. Well, never having been a financial director (or even met or sat next to one, as far as I know) of a supermarket chain , I can see the amazing logic…’let’s look at the products we sell the least off and ramp up the profit margins . That will show them foreign discounters, what’s what!…’

Apparently, under inflationary pressure through  the comparative weakness of sterling, the nations storekeepers are seeking to improve their margins on items such as dental floss, water filters, cashew nuts and fresh trout.

I am no apologist for U.K grocery outlets. Over the years as a supplier I have been at the wrong  end of their very pointy sticks , as I am in no doubt many suppliers will, currently, be feeling a similar sharp end. However, to suggest they are using this tool to rebalance the books is way off kilter. 

Since last June 2016, it was inevitable that inflation had to creep back into the nation’s shopping basket. All multiples will have had forward currency contracts (I have read JD Sports had a contract on sterling/ dollars at $1.45 until the end of this 2017?) as would most prudent suppliers. However, most of these will be coming to their end and the new ones will be at rates around 10% lower. Supermarkets are not charities . They are commercial enterprises designed to create profits for their investors. If they don’t make profits and seem to be developing strategies for constantly increasing profits , they will no longer attract investors and seek to exist. There are alternative business models, such as Cooperatives, but within the U.K. their offer is not deemed especially attractive to the consumer (6.1% share of the 2016).

So if they try to increase their margins by ‘profiteering ‘ on your fresh trout and cashnew nuts rather than fresh bread and milk (but pay their suppliers more!) than so be it. Just for once, this is not the greatest crime they have committed. They are guilty of others but I suspect the ‘fresh trout syndrome’ is purely a reflection of a cost increase that can be relatively easily passed on. The other purported crime is decreasing pack sizes. Well that ain’t nothing new. It has been a technique oft used when supplier and retailer want to maintain a retail price point and both are under cost pressures. Both are examples of the few occasions when suppliers and retailers get bad press trying to do the right thing.

Regrettably, we are all facing a period of inflation beyond our control. Consequently one of the few ways of minimising its effect is to avoid dental floss and fresh trout.