Business Briefing

Phone users hang up their landline in favour of mobile and video calls

UK economy ‘roars’ back, Ikea to invest £3.4bn in renewable energy, and other breaking business news

1

Telecoms

Is this the end of the landline?

Use of landline telephones in the UK has fallen dramatically with more than four million households disconnecting altogether since 2000, according to research by price comparison site Uswitch

More than a quarter of households, roughly five million, say they never use their landline for phone calls. And even with millions of people stuck at home during lockdowns, landline use dropped as consumers opted to use mobiles and make video calls via apps such as Zoom and Houseparty.

The survey of 2,000 people revealed that during lockdown 15% were using landlines more than before, while 27% said they were using it less. “One common problem is calls from scammers and salesmen,” the BBC says. 

There is a big generational divide when it comes to landline use. Up to 95% of over-65s still have one, compared to just 52% of 18 to 24-year-olds.

2

Economy 

Reopening off to a ‘roaring start’

The reopening of non-essential shops and outdoor hospitality in England on 12 April has given the UK’s battered economy a huge boost following a boom in spending. Economists from Deutsche Bank said the reopening is off to a “roaring start” and Barclays analysts say early indicators suggested a “sharp uptick in activity”, Yahoo! Finance reports. 

“It’s clear that we’re in for a strong Q2 bounce,” said Deutsche Bank’s chief UK economist Sanjay Raja. “High-frequency data has shot up since the UK entered the second stage of its lockdown exit.”

3

Companies 

Millions return to gyms but industry body calls for more support

Gyms in England also reopened last week with millions of people returning for their post-lockdown workouts. The easing of restrictions saw more than one million workouts take place at PureGym’s 240 sites while David Lloyd Leisure said footfall in its English clubs had been “extremely positive”, the BBC reports. 

Despite the positive reopening, not-for-profit industry association ukactive has warned that the gym sector will need government support after suffering huge losses during the past year. “Thousands of facilities still require greater financial and regulatory support in order to recover,” said ukactive chief executive Huw Edwards.

4

Retail

Ikea goes green with £3.4bn renewable energy investment 

Ikea is planning to invest an extra €4bn (£3.4bn) in renewable energy by 2030. By the end of the decade the Swedish retail giant will build wind and solar farms, while fitting its stores with electric vehicle charge points, The Guardian reports. The fresh investment will take Ikea’s clean energy spending past €6.5bn (£5.6bn). 

“We are in the most important decade in the history of humankind,” said Jesper Brodin, chief executive of the Ingka Group, which owns most Ikea stores. “We know that with the right actions and investments we can be part of the solution and reduce the impact on the home we share – our planet – while future proofing our business. For us, it is good business to be a good business.”

5

Aviation 

Airlines set to lose $48bn in 2021 - $10bn more than predicted 

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has warned that airlines stand to lose $48bn (£34.4bn) in 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic - that’s $10bn (£7.2bn) more than previously predicted in December. 

The “downward pivot” comes as airlines contend with new travel bans and restrictions arising from outbreaks in large aviation markets, Bloomberg reports. Willie Walsh, Iata’s director general, said the crisis is “longer and deeper than anyone could have expected” and while losses will be reduced from 2020, “the pain of the crisis increases”.

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