Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

And the loser is

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate
Edited by Adam Shaw, associate partner
30 March 2022

Good morning,

The year is 1750BC and you’ve paid full price for copper ingots that were lower quality than you expected. If your name is Nanni and you’re complaining to a merchant called Ea-nasir, congratulations! The clay tablet detailing your problem is preserved in the British Museum.

Receiving an inferior product at the cost of the full monty is literally the oldest consumer complaint. And, judging by this week, the issue has another few millennia in it yet.

Cadbury has cut the size of its 200g Dairy Milk bar to 180g without reducing the price. This comes soon after the brand reduced by seven per cent the size of Wispa bars in multipacks.

This form of product debasement is known as ‘shrinkflation’ and comes in many novel forms. In 2017, the points of a Toblerone became more acute while the price remained the same. Likewise, a tub of Quality Street ain’t what it used to be.

It’s not just chocolate. As inflation bites, restaurants and hotels are among business offering less service for the semblance of value.

The new twist in this latest round of shrinkage has been companies’ purported ESG motives. Mondelez, Cadbury’s owner, apparently wants you to have a smaller Wispa because of its “proactive strategy to help tackle obesity”. Hyatt has already removed complimentary toiletry bottles from its hotel rooms, which – it claims – will help tackle its carbon footprint. It will also help cut the chain’s costs.

As grocery prices rise to a decade-long high of 5.2% in a year, consumers deserve more honesty about what they’re paying for. Shrinkflation is nothing other than a price rise by the back door. It’s beyond manufacturers’ power to avoid price increases but if they must happen, consumers deserve transparency. If, however, the past four millennia are anything to go by, I’m not holding out hope.

News

The Ukrainian government has dismissed the Russian military’s promise to scale back operations in northern Ukraine. President Zelensky hailed “positive” signals from the latest peace talks. Ukrainian intelligence’s latest report, however, suggests Russian withdrawals around Kyiv and Chernihiv are merely aims to “mislead the military leadership” of Ukraine.

The Queen has attended a memorial service at Westminster Abbey for her late husband Prince Philip. The Queen’s attendance follows long speculation over whether her health would allow her to appear.

Ofcom’s annual survey has found a third of eight- to 11-year-olds use TikTok, despite the platform’s 13+ age limit. Thirteen per cent of three- to four-year-olds are also watching TikTok videos. The survey also found 70% of adults believed they could spot misinformation online but only 20% could identify tell-tale signs of a genuine post.

Boris Johnson will today face scrutiny from the heads of parliamentary committees when he appears before the liaison committee. The appearance comes as the Metropolitan Police announced it will issue the first 20 fines relating to lockdown breaches at 10 Downing Street.

Business and economy

According to Kantar, the UK’s poorest families will see disposable income drop by a fifth this year with £850 less to spend on non-essentials as shop prices hit a decade high. The price of non-food retail has accelerated to 1.5% in March, from 1.3% in February, according to the British Retail Consortium; its highest rate since 2011.

One of the biggest shareholders in Barclays has sold a stake in the bank worth about £900m. Barclays’ shares slid by 2.4% after the unidentified institution offloaded a stake of about 3.6%. The move comes within a day of a £15bn trading error by the bank. (£)

The UK government is exploring a fourth delay in imposing checks on imports from the EU. Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg is understood to be against the checks altogether.

Columns of note

Twelve mothers died over two decades due to Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust’s focus on natural births over C-sections. In the New Statesman, Emma Haslett questions why this dangerous obsession with natural births has been allowed to take hold. (£)

Will Russians rise up to dethrone Putin? Roger Boyes is sceptical. In The Times, he claims that, although Putin’s war may soon end, the end of his regime is less likely. Rather, Boyes believes, Putin will respond to failures in Ukraine by purging internal critics and incompetent advisors. (£)

Markets

What happened yesterday?

European stocks saw a rise following news of Russian retreats in Ukraine. The region-wide Stoxx 600 index gained 1.7%, closing at its highest level since 17 February: before Russia invaded Ukraine.

The FTSE 100 closed 0.86% stronger and the FTSE 250 gained two per cent.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index ended the day up 1.23% and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.84%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also rose 1.1%.

The pound was trading at 1.18 euros and at 1.31 dollars.

What’s happening today?

AGM
Sureserve
Oxford Biodyn
Brunner Inv.tst
Power Metal  
Mediazest

Final results
Next
Michelmersh Brick Holdings
Strix Group
Gulf Keystone
Petroleum      
Team17 Group
Equals Gp       

International economic announcements
(07:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
(13:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(10:00) Economic Sentiment Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Industrial Confidence (EU)
(13:30) Gross Domestic Product (US)
(10:00) Consumer Confidence (EU)
(10:00) Business Climate Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Services Sentiment (EU)

UK economic announcements
(08:30) Mortgage Approvals
(08:30) M4 Money Supply
(00:01) BRC Shop Price Index

Source: Financial Times

did you know

King Ranch, the largest ranch in Texas, covers more area than Luxembourg.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Ministerial statement
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Review

Motions
Coronavirus Act 2020 (Delay in Expiry: Inquests, Courts and Tribunals, and Statutory Sick Pay) (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2022
Coronavirus Act 2020 (Review of temporary provisions) (No. 4)

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Various

Statements
Schools White Paper
Conduct of P&O Ferries Chief Executive and board and the action they will take to safeguard job

Legislation
Building Safety Bill – report stage

Scottish parliament 

Time for Reflection
Rev Sheila Moir, Minister, Dryburgh District Churches, Scottish Borders
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Topical Questions (if selected)
 
Health, Social Care and Sport Committee Debate
Perinatal Mental Health
 
Stage 1 Debate
Scottish Local Government Elections (Candidacy Rights of Foreign Nationals) Bill
 
Committee Announcements
 
Business Motions
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Decision Time
 
Members’ Business
S6M-03278 Sarah Boyack: Commonwealth Day 2022 on 14 March 2022

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