This week saw the announcement of two events to look forward to in 2018. Firstly, we had the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, meaning we can all look forward to a Royal Wedding at Windsor in May. Unfortunately though, there will be no additional Bank Holiday! And then on Friday afternoon, English football fans discovered that their trip to Russia next summer will see them guaranteed to watch games against Tunisia, Panama and Belgium (in that order). Whilst somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 enthused English fans are expected to travel, Russian businesses appear far less enthused by the tournament. The FIFA sponsorship model in the wake of the 2015 meltdown was to attract thirty-four backers, including twenty endorsements from the Russian market. However with less than six months to go until the opening game, FIFA's continued ‘reputation’ seems to have contributed to twenty-two sponsorship slots remaining empty, with a whopping nineteen gaps at regional supporter level. FIFA apparently have no explanation why the host country has failed to attract sponsors for their own World Cup. FIFA, here are a four clues! Corruption. Bribery. Sexism. Money Laundering. After years of shoddy behaviour, it has finally come home to roost!
At the end of the week which saw RBS announce it was closing 259 branches and cutting 680 jobs as more customers bank online, and Thomas Cook also announce it was planning to close 50 of its 690 stores as part of a review of its UK retail network, it felt like the appropriate time to touch-in with the UK High Street. And where better to do that than with some PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company? And the good news is that it’s not all doom and gloom. Despite the advance of online retail and a slowing economy, the number of chain retail outlets closing on Britain’s high streets is at its lowest level for seven years. In the first half of 2017, 2,342 shops opened whilst 2,564 shops closed, equivalent to 14 closures per day. Leisure chains continue to thrive, whilst tobacconists, beauticians and coffee shops were also among those growing at the fastest rates. Perhaps it’s another occasion to ensure we all look beyond the negative headlines?
We have now entered December. It is therefore finally acceptable to use the C-word. Your Christmas preparations can now begin and The Weekly thought it would help out by providing a check-list of tasks to tackle over the next few weeks:
- Put your lights up everywhere, although we suspect you won’t be able to better those on this house.
- Choose your Christmas tree, but be careful. The average Christmas tree contains about 30,000 bugs and insects.
- Scrap the Christmas jumper this year. That was so 2016. Instead, buy yourself a Christmas suit, the sartorial equivalent of wrapping paper. But be quick…they are apparently selling fast!
- Keep checking the weather forecast for snow. It’s unlikely though given the UK hasn't woken up to widespread snow on Christmas morning since 2010.
- Watch ‘Love Actually’. Theresa May clearly has, copying Hugh Grant this week by standing up to a US President. Perhaps the film should be Mrs May’s blueprint to becoming a more popular UK Prime Minister?
- Work out your answer to your children’s inevitable question about how does Santa deliver presents to everyone in the world in only one night? To put your answer into context, US scientists have calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world's presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second!