With TMM beginning to find the UK ONS data dubious and Merv bending the stats to suit his base rate-linked mortgage, we thought it time to dispatch ourselves out there to get our own TMM feel of what is really going on.
In the UK there has always been a corner of Cornwall that is forever Chelsea. It's called Rock. And its neighbour, Polzeath, is Fulham-on-Sea. Together they are the "Hamptons" of England with property prices to match. Except that the property prices in Rock have been bullet proof against the recent recession and the rental market has seen 100% summer occupancy for years as generations of red-trousered lawyers and bankers have taken their little Jemima's and Rory's on traditional English beach holidays that remind them of their own sunny youths. But this year is different. Apparently 10-20% of rental property is un-let and the Mariner's Arms, normally heaving with drunken public school boys, is hosting tumbleweed races. The beach at Fulham-on-Sea was not much better, with last Friday seeing a normally rammed full car park practically empty. We would have suggested that Merv the Swerve must have holidayed there recently to justify his recent UK outlooks, but that can't be the case as inflation down there is still rampant. He'd have raised base rates 20% if he'd have dined at the Blue Tomato Café where its now about £15 for a truly appalling "Full" English Breakfast and a coffee. The Rock is no longer Rocking.
Aldeburgh on the East Coast of England however has been much more of a home to the "Arts" set, a veritable an Islington on Sea. And here things were very different- the place was packed full last weekend. We are scratching our heads at this finding of the Rock/Aldeburgh (or lawyer/ luvvey) cross. We would have thought that the Arts would be more under the cosh than the bankers and lawyers, but may be its just because the East Coast is closer to London and costs less to get to. This year we know a lot of families dramatically cutting back on discretionary holiday spending but we wondered if the Cornish result was a backlash against last years' "save and stay at home" holiday choice which ended up with most folks realising that the UK is still very expensive... And it rains.
To see if the Brits had indeed headed overseas, we went to Italy. And there we found them in the sun and enjoying what our man reports to be a booming economy, though he was a little surprised that the opening of Turandot wasn’t as busy as previous years. But as he knows nothing about opera he may have confused it with a Turin internet site. We have therefore called him home.
Or at least tried to, but got lost in the labyrinth that is now Kings Cross station and gave up. But interviewing those arriving from Scotland in one of the subterranean bars, it would appear that new start-ups are booming. The most popular growth areas being motor sales and repair, IT and leisure. Don't we ever learn? So much for the manufacturing resurgence reported elsewhere.
In summary, it is still a confused picture and we wish we could end with a stunning trade idea. But we reckon the recent GBP strength has finally given the Brit tourist something to celebrate.
For some reason we don't seem to be getting any reports from our man in the UAE. Perhaps he forgot his Blackberry charger.