Barometer

What were the GameStop investors actually buying?

6 February 2021

9:00 AM

6 February 2021

9:00 AM

Best before

The government plans to introduce labels on domestic appliances informing consumers how long they are likely to last. Which appliances have lasted the longest?

— In 2017, Sydney and Rachel Saunders of Exeter, both in their eighties, were reported to be getting rid of appliances bought soon after their marriage in 1956 and still working. They included a Baby Belling cooker, bought for £19; a Servis washing machine, bought for £60; and a Burco dryer.

— In 2013, a couple from Montgomery in New York state were reported still to be using a General Electric refrigerator which was made between 1929 and 1931.

Flu away

How many people took up the offer of a flu vaccine this winter compared with last? 2020 figures cover September to December:

2020 | 2019

Over-65s | 80% | 71%

Under 65s at clinical risk | 52% | 41%

Pregnant women | 43% | 41%


50- to 65-year-olds | 26% | n/a

Two-year-olds | 54% | 37%

(50- to 65-year-olds not offered vaccine in 2019)
Source: Public Health England

Business end

How many businesses went bust in 2020?

— The Insolvency Service recorded 12,557 insolvencies over the year, down from 17,225 in 2019 and the lowest since 1989.

— It worked out at 29.2 for every 10,000 active companies, down from 42.1 in 2019.

— But there was a rise in the fourth quarter: the 3,071 insolvencies between October and December was up 17% on 2019.

— The Insolvency Service attributed the fall to reduced enforcement activity by HMRC, suspension of some insolvency procedures and the emergency loans on offer.

Long game

Shares in US computer games retailer GameStop surged as an army of small investors sought to inflict losses on hedge funds that were shorting the stock. What were the investors buying? The company’s results for the third quarter of 2020, published in December, revealed:

— Sales of $1 billion, down 30% on the same period in 2019.

11% fall in the number of physical shops.

— Among the shops which remained open, sales were down 25%. However, the e-commerce sales increased by 257%.

— Expenses fell by £316 million compared with the third quarter of 2019.

— The company made a loss of $18.8 million — down from $83.4 million in the same period of 2019.

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