It’s a big day for many businesses as the UK lifts more Covid-related restrictions.
This should have been cause for celebration, but all eyes are on the Indian variant and whether the Government is going to impose new lockdowns, be it localised or national.
Businesses will have to make hay while the sun shines, albeit interspersed by lots of dark clouds.
Hospitality companies will be hoping that their doors stay open from today and not have a repeat of the stop-start cycle they’ve had to endure over the past year and a bit.
It’s a good job that customers are now allowed to eat and drink inside as the weather has not been favourable to outdoor consumption of late, and hospitality operators need all the help they can get.
“A lot of consumers are in a strong position to spend big, having saved a lot of money during the pandemic, and many will be eager to splash the cash as they reclaim leisure experiences. Therefore, takings could be strong for at least the next few weeks, assuming consumers aren’t put off from the threat of the Indian variant spreading fast, particularly among those not yet vaccinated,” says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
“Airlines are also at a major turning point today as restrictions ease slightly. They are doing everything they can to cater for demand within the still-tight rules and Ryanair implies that customer appetite for travelling is picking up, judging by its bookings since April.
“Like many in the airline sector, Ryanair is keeping its fingers crossed that the rollout of Covid vaccines will help to reopen the sky for European air travel and tourism this summer.
“Despite swinging to a big loss in 2020, Ryanair has kept its eye on the longer-term prize and recently increased an order for B737-8200 Gamechanger aircraft in a bid to have an advantage over rivals, as these planes have more seats and lower fuel burn and noise emissions.
“Ryanair has a reputation for being able to constantly find new ways to make money and separate it from the crowd, and the shape of its future fleet would suggest another potential victory.
“The UK continues to see a very smooth and successful rollout of vaccines, but other countries are still playing catch-up or are experiencing supply shortages. That’s why it could be better late than never for GlaxoSmithKline which has reported encouraging Phase 2 results from its joint vaccine candidate with Sanofi.
“The more vaccines the better, as that would in theory increase the chance for countries around the world to have a fighting chance of tackling Covid and start living lives normally again. GlaxoSmithKline still must conduct the all-important Phase 3 trial and success is not guaranteed.
“Elsewhere, Hollywood Bowl is as enthusiastic as it can get, given it is finally able to reopen its doors after a lengthy period of enforced closure. Before the pandemic it proved good at getting landlords to help pay for new or refurbished bowling sites; now it is likely to be in an even stronger position to strike deals with property owners given how its units are key attractions for bringing visitors into leisure and retail outlets.
“And while the leisure sector is getting all the attention from today’s reopening activity, the property market continues to surge ahead and within that housebuilder Vistry is sitting pretty after increasing earnings guidance.
“So far this year its private sales rate per site per week is significantly ahead of the same periods in 2019 and 2020, and there are many opportunities to buy land at a decent price which will lay the foundations for future value creation.”