Grand Haven pier in St Joseph, Michigan covered in icicles. (Photo: Mike Kline/Barcroft Media)

Tomorrow signals the end of the January transfer window, the last opportunity for teams to secure that key player who is going to make the difference in the second half of the season. For Aston Villa fans, they are hoping for a whole new team! The January transfer window was grudgingly accepted by English Football in 2002-2003 and since then Chelsea has ‘panic bought’ more than any other team, spending £214m in the last thirteen January windows. Manchester City (£131m) and Liverpool (£120m) complete the three podium places. If the newspapers are right, tomorrow looks set to pass with a bit of a whimper. Spare a thought then for Sky Sports News for whom 'Deadline Day' is one of their biggest days of the year. They dress their presenters in yellow and send their reporters out to all the training grounds hoping to unearth the exclusive scoop that Carlos Kickaball has signed on loan for someone until the end of the season. Tomorrow looks sets to be a long day for Jim White and his team of fellow presenters. Perhaps that's why they have released this tongue-in-cheek advert suggesting that anything could still happen!

Continuing with the theme of shopping, CBRE revealed this week that rents for prime Central London shops increased by 9% in the final quarter of 2015 (the fastest growth experienced in the sector since 1988) and by 18% for 2015 as a whole. Whilst this growth highlights demand for shops in the capital’s most sought-after retail streets, their report also reveals that the retail rental growth story for the rest of the UK remains very different. Outside of London, prime retail rents grew by only 1% for the whole of 2015. Is it any wonder then that according to LSH, investment in 2015 in retail property was down on 2014’s level at £12.2bn and that 2015 was the weakest year for shopping centre investment volumes since 2012. Defying the regional retail gloom however is the retail warehouse sector which experienced its best year since 2006, with investment volumes up 14% on 2014. Parks continue to experience steady growth in footfall thanks to free parking, good accessibility and convenience for click and collect. These factors, coupled with ongoing planning constraints on developing out-of-town retail, should all help support further rental growth and encourage continued investment in this sector in 2016.

Big news from the toys industry this week. Mattel, the US toy company, revealed that Barbie is to receive a dramatic makeover. The next generation of Barbie is to include three optional body shapes – petite, tall and curvy – as well as seven different skin tones and 24 hair styles. Despite some minor variations, there has been little change to Barbie since she was first launched in 1959. The new range, which is made up of 33 different dolls (as revealed in this video), is intended to better reflect the diversity of the product’s audience and appeal to the shifting expectations of what Mattel called “millennial moms”, mums who are driven by social justice and attracted to brands with purpose and values. The blonde, blue-eyed and implausibly well-proportioned current Barbie doesn’t apparently fit into this category! Whilst new Barbie sounds like a commendable evolution for the 21st century buyers, would it be too cynical to think the changes are more to do with the fact that Mattel announced a 14% global drop in Barbie sales in October, the eighth consecutive quarter in which numbers fell?

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