Charlotte Street Partners



Mother of the House

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate
Edited by Scott Reid, associate partner

25 November 2021

Good morning,

One might say that, over two millennia, the setting of Christmas has moved from the stable to the shed. Despite a Covid blip last year, the serried sheds that house Christmas markets are once again proliferating Britain’s cities. Yet, in both Britain and in the mitteleuropean heimat of the Christmas market, Covid and supply issues are putting a damper on shed domination. In Germany and Austria, surging Covid infections have seen the widespread cancellation of markets. Amid a regional lockdown, the German state of Bavaria, which hosts world-famous seasonal markets at Nuremberg and Munich, has cancelled all its events, as has neighbouring Saxony. Austria, meanwhile, closed markets ahead of imposing a national lockdown on Monday. In other parts of Germany, festivities are going ahead, albeit with entry restricted to the vaccinated. Yet such restrictions, combined with ongoing uncertainty, are placing burdens on open markets. In recent years, the UK has enthusiastically adopted the tradition. The number of such events rose from around 30 in 2007 to more than 100 a decade later. Covid, however, is not the only obstacle. Like the idea of the market itself, many stalls are directly imported from the continent. Increasing restrictions between Great Britain and the continent have seen withdrawals on top of the 10,000 full-time stallholders who have dropped out due to Covid. As a result, Leeds has cancelled its Christmas market and Coventry has drastically scaled back its event. Of others contacted by the BBC, almost all are operating with restrictions and with fewer stalls than before the pandemic.   These facts are likely to have a drag on local economies. A 2018 study by the Local Government Association estimated the events added £500m to the UK economy. One survey ahead of Christmas 2020 estimated the closure of Christmas markets would cost the UK economy almost £900m. Although a compatible shutdown is off the cards this year, the pinch may be real for many cities. So, if for a short while, embrace shed domination of our city centres and the £6 churros that come with it. Christmas markets need their recovery.


In Germany, the Social Democratic Party, the Free Democrats, and the Greens have agreed a coalition deal. If approved by the parties’ memberships, the deal would see Social Democrat leader Olaf Scholz become chancellor. The deal is understood to include plans to loosen rules on immigration, citizenship and gender recognition rules. It will step up efforts to decarbonise the economy across housing, heavy industry and the automobile sector. Centre-right Free Democrat leader Christian Lindner is understood to have secured the coveted finance ministry. The UK and France have agreed to keep “all options on the table” after 27 people, including five women and a girl, died in a failed attempt to cross the channel. The incident saw the highest number of migrant casualties in the channel since statistics were first collected in 2014. Sweden’s first female prime minister has resigned within 12 hours of her appointment. Magdalena Andersson of the Social Democrats resigned after the Green party withdrew from the governing coalition over the budget. Andersson is seeking the parliament’s approval to return as the head of a single-party government.

Business and economy

Britain’s factories are struggling to meet the highest demand since records began in 1977. According to a survey by the CBI, 46% of manufacturers have reported higher-than-usual demand while only 20% report lower-than-usual demand. Scotland’s economic growth is estimated to have slowed to 0.8% in the third quarter after growth of 5.6% in the previous three months. Growth in the rest of the UK slowed from 5.5% to 1.3% in the same period. Scottish GDP is estimated to be 2.1% below its level in the last quarter of 2019. In the US, the number of jobless claimants has reached its lowest number since 1969 at 199,000. GDP growth in the second quarter was slightly below estimates at 2.1%. The data comes amid news that US inflation is surging at its fastest rate in 30 years.

Columns of note

Context is key. Had Boris Johnson delivered his Peppa Pig-referencing speech to the CBI at the height of his vaccine popularity bounce, it may have gone unremarked. His speech on Monday was, however, poorly received by listeners and Tory MPs. In the Financial Times, Robert Shrimsley points to an uncertain future for “an amusement park prime minister who […] is no longer all that entertaining”. Shrimsley argues that, while Brexit and Covid had been unifying projects for the Conservatives, little, except maybe levelling-up, may offer such a focus. (£) Had it not been for the internet, the antisemitic views expressed in messages sent by cricketer Azeem Rafiq as a teenager would have been lost to time. As it is, the internet makes little distinction between past and present and, James Marriott argues in The Times, allows little room for change or forgiveness. Marriott claims the need to forget is human and the internet’s inability to do so is feeding its distemper. (£)


What happened yesterday?

Markets have reacted with caution to recent US economic data. The S&P500 rose 0.2% while the Nasdaq composite was up 0.4%. Beyond Wall Street, rises were similarly muted. In Europe, the Stoxx600 index rose only 0.1% while London’s FTSE100 rose 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also gained only 0.1%. The pound was trading at 1.19 euros and 1.33 dollars.

In company news:Snapchat will more than double the footprint of its London HQ. Brewin Dolphin has reported record discretionary net flows at £1.9bn. Shares in Cardiff-based semiconductor manufacturer IQE dropped 20% in response to news of softening demand.

What’s happening today?

Trading announcements

Source: Financial Times

did you know?

Munich’s Oktoberfest always starts in September.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questionsCabinet Office (including topical questions) Business statementsBusiness questions to the Leader of the House

House of Lords 

Oral questionsVarious DebateReported remarks of the Foreign Secretary that a genocide is underway against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang, ChinaNumber of Afghan refugees accepted under Operation Warm Welcome currently living in hotels Orders and regulationsMoney Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) (No. 3) (High-Risk Countries) Regulations 2021Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2021

Scottish parliament 

General questions First minister’s questions Portfolio questionsConstitution, External Affairs and Culture Scottish government debateInternational Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

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