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What does the summer hold for us?

April 17, 2024 by Alistair Enser

As summer marches towards us and the latest vaccination figures show that the UK is streets ahead of the rest of Europe – and indeed, the world – we have an increasing sense of hope and freedom pending. Yet according to latest statistics, we still have some bumpy ground ahead of us. If we are fortunate we may have a summer of freedom and relief in the UK, but this may not follow elsewhere.

Current rates as reported by the BBC recently show that the UK vaccination programme is more than three times more advanced than the European average.

It would appear that, compared to pretty much anywhere else in the world, Boris and his team of advisors have really nailed this one. With support from many thousands of professionals and volunteers around the country, more than one third of our population – including all the most vulnerable – are now vaccinated, and the rest of us can look forward to our ‘jabs’ very soon.

But is this enough? Only this last week, despite having vaccinated 10% of it’s population, Italy was forced to enter a new lockdown under a new government, as a third wave of COVID cases advances across Europe. At the same time Germany, whom you will remember was one of the least affected countries in the initial outbreak, has also reported worrying rates of acceleration.

Current thinking still suggests that successful vaccination programmes will create a firebreak in the virus transmission which will ultimately slow down and even eradicate it. No doubt though, it will take time for Europe to catch up, and potentially for everyone to undergo boosters and top-ups to remain immune in the future.

Closer to home there have been some worrying statistics regarding the state of the high-street. According to the latest data from PWC reported by the BBC we have experienced the largest net shrinkage in a decade, with more to come as lockdown ceases.

No-one seems to be immune, either. While take-aways and cake shops seems to have bucked the trend, we have already lost key brands such as Debenhams and Topshop (although the latter has been acquired by online retailer ASOS). Only this week one of our oldest and most recognised brands John Lewis has reported it first ever annual loss. On the flip side though, a staggering 85,000 online businesses have been launched in the UK during lockdown. The world isn’t flat (despite some theories suggesting so) and it certainly keeps spinning. Life, habits and focus continually evolve and for us to be successful we need to adapt and pivot too.

So what next?

Well as we all look forward to longer days, a bit more sunshine and the completion of our vaccination programme, there are definitely increasing shoots of confidence. In a recent survey by Hitachi capital, three fifths of those who originally voted to stay in Europe now believe the outcome of Brexit will be favourable.

So in summary, we don’t always get it right, and for sure we are in uncertain times. However, with a fair wind, a little luck, the right decisions and dogged determination, we might just be able to relax a little this summer, start to see an economic recovery and build a new Britain that can outshine the rest of Europe for innovation and productivity. In that respect, as we have just celebrated International Women’s Week in the UK and it was very encouraging to read that the growth in jobs for young women under 25 rose more in the UK last year than the rest of Europe put together! That’s a great achievement.

Stay safe.