Optimism returns in time for December festivities
As we edge closer to the (hopeful) end of the second national lockdown, optimism seems to be thankfully returning just in time for December. While it is still unclear exactly what social distancing restrictions will be in place throughout the festive period, encouraging murmurings and speculation are continuing to materialise daily. Just this week, the government’s medical adviser on the Covid-19 crisis, Susan Hopkins, informed the BBC that they were working on a plan to allow Christmas to be “as close to normal as possible” for families across the country.
This follows the uplifting and welcome arrival of two new coronavirus vaccines, with Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine reportedly capable of protecting 94% of adults over 65 years old.
The positive affect of this news was far reaching, improving the future outlook for multiple sectors beyond healthcare including financial services; the announcement sent the UK stock market into a flurry of activity, with blue-chip shares soaring for airline and travel groups in what was reported to be the busiest trading day on record.
While there is still a long way to go before markets return to normality and share prices will undoubtedly continue to fluctuate as the pandemic rumbles on, this has provided a much-needed boost for the economic landscape.
Speaking at a CityUK conference, Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, heralded the recent vaccine announcements as signalling “light at the end of the tunnel” and returning a semblance of certainty for investors. He also went as far to say that the shock of the Covid-19 crisis could be the catalyst for ending a long period of low investment and weak productivity growth.
Refocusing on the short-term future and next month when lockdown could lift, the Office of National Statistics recently shared encouraging figures indicating that during the summer, when lighter restrictions were in place, the UK’s gross domestic product grew a record 15.5%.
Permitting that the current lockdown ends in early December as currently scheduled, this uptick in economic activity in the three months to September is hopefully a promise of better things to come. December is a crucial trading time for many of the sectors that have been hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, including high-street retailers and hospitality. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that next month, the momentum of good news continues, helping to stabilise our economy and spread some much-needed Christmas cheer ahead of the holidays.