Click to visit on your mobile

We strongly reccomend a visit (from your mobile or tablet) to’s Winterlands site – most impressive.

As an alterrnative you can always check out the actual snow situation at one of Scotland’s leading ski areas at the  Glencoe Mountain resort.

It’s touch and go currently as to whether or not the facilities will be operational over the holiday period.

STATUS (Daily - check for updates)

We have lost the lower slopes but the poma uptrack is complete for access only. Middle and upper slopes still have good cover of soft snow.”

29/12/14 (am) – “Most runs on the mountain have a good cover of snow some a little thin and narrow in places. Upper mountain snow is firm but grippy with some scraped patches in high traffic areas.”

27/12/14 (pm) – “Poma, cliffy and Wall T-bar all expected to run tomorrow morning. The Groomers have been working hard and we hope to have the Main Basin T-Bar running by lunchtime.”

26/12/14 (am) - “We are going for a 10am start .. Plateau Poma piste involves a bit of combat skiing. Now the daylight has come in we have assessed the runs and unfortunately the wind has scoured huge areas, so Mugs Alley a no go. Tickets £20 adults and £15 kids.”

24/12/14 (pm) – “Heavy snow today has improved conditions on the hill. We expect to be able to offer some skiing on Boxing day. We won`t know how much until we get up the hill on the 26th.”

 Merry Christmas from and


UK leads world Ecommerce Sales

Well, sort of!

  • In absolute number terms we come in at #3 after China & the USA.

  • In % of all retail sales terms we are well ahead of the pack & in 2013 are the only country with a double digit number.

  • As per our graphic looking at the 10 top countries in total value terms and expressing this in per capita terms (population figures courtesy of  Worldometers) we again lead the world by quite a margin. Looking out in time based on these forecasts we are also likely to stay well ahead.

The Ecommerce figures come from eMarketer  who have also, for the first time produced all retail sales figures for the world and project these to grow from $21.2 trillion in 2013 to over $28 trillion in 2018.

On the Ecommerce figures we reckon that the top 3 countries contribute over 60% of the world figure and this is set to rise to nearly 66.6% by 2018.

With approaching 20% of the worlds population China currently contributes just under 30% of of the world Ecommerce sales and this is forecast to rise to over 40% by 2018. This is the only country in the top ten who are forecast to increase their shares. The US drops from 25% to 20% and we fall from 6.5% to 5%.

Perhaps our golden hour today will help to keep us ahead of the chasing pack.


Apple TV or not TV

A while back we started a post on the long anticipated iTV (or iScreen or iName of your choice) by saying:

“Their timeline for disruptive new product sales has been Q4 2001 the iPod, Q2 2007 the iPhone and then finally the iPad in Q2 of 2010.”

The average new product group introduction timeline, we reckon, has therefore involved a gap of around 17 quarters or a little over 4 years.  Some might therefore say that the Apple Watch fits neatly into this scenario with likely availability from early next year just under 5 years after the iPad introduction.

We beg to differ as the Apple Watch (note NOT the iWatch) is being categorised by Apple as part of their new Other products group). Per their conference call on their Q4 results back in October “We’ll be creating a new reporting category called other products. This will encompass everything we report in the accessories category today including Beats headphones and speakers, Apple TV and peripherals and accessories for iPhone, iPad, Mac and iPod.

In addition, we will begin to include iPod sales in the other products category and we will also reflect sales of Apple Watch in this line item once it begins shipping in early calendar 2015.”

So possibly we can look forward to the iTV either early in 2015 or not until 2018!

Elsewhere Seeking Alpha in the form of Alex Cho thinks it could well be in the 2016-2018 timeframe. His analysis is somewhat influenced by the excellent analyst, from Piper Jaffray, Gene Munster whose one weakness as even he highlighted in a 2013 presentation slide seems to be forecasting the arrival of the iTV. It ran as follows:

  • 2009 – “Apple will launch a television by 2011″ – Gene Munster
  • 2011 – “Apple will launch a television by 2012″ – Gene Munster
  • 2012 – “Don’t buy a TV today because Apple will launch one in 2013″ – Gene Munster
  • 2013 – “……” Gene Munster

His latest statement is:

“Apple takes a long time in-between products. If we look back over the last decade, it’s 3-6 years between major products. And so, ultimately the Watch is what hit this year, they’re going to refine that next year along with payments. And then that probably gets us into 2016 as more of a time frame for the actual television.”

We hope our 2015 possibility comes to fruition and in the meantime will leave you with the impressive Martin Hajek’s  video of what it might just look like!

Black Friday boosts November Internet Sales to all Time Records

The Office for National Statistics (ONS)  yesterday published the the monthly retail sales figures for November (pdf) Full details  are available on the ONS site.

Overall figures showed an increase in sales volumes of  1.6% (including fuel) on last month which according to Bloomberg was greater than its estimate of 0.4% obtained in their news survey of  economists. We think there are comparative distortions this month compared to November 2013 as “Black Friday” is included in November this year but in December last year. We shall see! “The ONS data also showed the continuing impact of the supermarket price war. Food prices measured by the deflator dropped an annual 1 percent, and overall prices fell 2 percent, the most in 12 years.”

The ONS on their preferred quarterly view noted continuing growth.” The underlying pattern in the three-month on three-month movement in the quantity bought continued to show growth for the 21st consecutive month increasing by 1.1%. This was the longest period of sustained growth since November 2007 when there were 25 periods of consecutive growth.”

All the internet figures we quote are now the new seasonally adjusted statistics issued by the ONS. January 2014 was the one year in six when an extra week occurs statistically and we have annotated our headline graph to show an approximately comparable level of sales.

Our Internet sales headlines:

  • Strong Internet sales (helped by Black Friday) achieve highest monthly growth rate (3.0%) this year.
  • Total Internet sales as proportion of all sales at new all time high of 11.5% & this is the eighth consecutive month when internet sales have been above 11%
  • Internet food sales as a proportion all food sales at new all time high of 3.9% and only just short of £115 million a week.
  • For every £1 spent in the online retail sector 47 pence was spent on non-store retailing 38 pence in non food stores and 15 pence in food stores!
  • The Non Store Retailing sector which includes the likes of Amazon and other wholly online retailers seems to be levelling out rather than showing an increase and since its peak in May at over £360 million per week seems to be stuck in a range of between £350 – £356 million.
  • We do think the ONS needs to do more analysis of internet sales as already nearly half are effectively categorised as sales by online retailers virtually irrespective of the underlying goods or services! These average YoY growth figures of over 20% but now show signs of slowing to nearer 15%!

November and year to date stats for internet sales:

  • Months sales 11.5% (11.3% last month 10.7 % a year ago) of all retail sales
  • Monthly year on year increase of 12.9% (9.2% last month 17.5% a year ago)
  • Year to date increase on 2013 is 12.4% (12.3% last month)
  • Moving Annual total increases (1) on October 2014 annualised +11.9% (2) on November 2013 +14.3%
  • The UK’s *largest online retailer is included in the group Non-store retailing and this sector shows growth of 10.7% on 2013 this month and accounts for nearly 50% of all online retail sales. This is an area which SHOULD just grow & grow unless further analysis is undertaken of this channel!

The ONS words this month are:

Key points

The value of sales made online increased by 2.9% compared with October 2014 and accounted for 11.5% of all retail sales in November 2014. Online sales increased by 12.9% compared with November 2013.

Internet Sales in Detail

Seasonally adjusted Internet sales data are provided within this release. These seasonally adjusted estimates are published in the RSI internet tables and include:

  • a seasonally adjusted value index, and
  • year-on-year and month-on-month growth rates.

Internet sales are estimates of how much was spent online through retailers across all store types in Great Britain. The reference year is 2011=100.

Key Points

  • Average weekly spending online in November 2014 was £753.4 million. This was an increase of 12.9% compared with November 2013. This increase is in part due to ‘Black Friday’ which was not included in the November 2013 data.
  • The online spend in household goods stores increased by 38.4% compared with October 2013. This was the highest year-on-year spend in this store type since November 2009 when it increased by 43.2%. The largest contribution to this growth came from electrical appliance stores.
  • The amount spent online accounted for 11.5% of all retail spending excluding automotive fuel, compared with 10.7% in November 2013.

Table 3 shows the year-on-year growth rates for total Internet sales by sector and the proportion of sales made online in each retail sector.”

Table 3: Summary of Internet Statistics for November 2014 (seasonally adjusted)

We have added our annotations to the ONS table – The bold categories/ figures in the table are the primary constituents of the total (ie (a) + (b) + (c) = All retailing). Dept. stores, Textile etc, Household etc and Other stores are simply an analysis of (b) All non-food.

We have also added the weekly Internet sales figures by sector and the proportion they represent of all online sales.

Sector summary

The non-store retailing sector comprises of stalls and markets, mail order and those retailers that sell mainly online.

+ Whilst the ONS will not confirm the names of specific retailers within categories they did say that retailers selling wholly online with no

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The moving annual total, which we report, moved up again (it has increased EVERY MONTH since January 2009  to an all time high of £37.8 billion an increase in the month  of  0.9% annualised 12.6%. The average this year is 14%. The long term compound average growth rate is around 15%.

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The published total internet sales weekly figure was £753.6 million which was ahead of our expectations anjd we even beat our moving annual estimate with the actual reaching £37.8 billion.

The average monthly increase this year has now risen to 0.9% . With a strong Cyber Monday followed by it’s manic brother we are optimistically looking for another record breaker at  seasonal recovery above average an increase of around 0.75%  next month so we’re  going for £775 million in December and a moving annual total of about £38.25 billion.

We have again included our experimental graph (e & o e!) showing the relative internet and non-internet, moving annual total, sales from late 2009 by month. As before it highlights that high street sales have been and continue to go nowhere! As, we have mentioned before, the Boston Consulting Group forecast  in their report (The $4.2 Trillion opportunity) that this trend is likely to continue with the high streets market share contracting at around 2.75% a year from 2010 through 2016. Due to the exceptional 5 week month in Jan 2014 there is a 6 yearly jump to allow for the 53rd week!

Further details and explanations are either in the ONS release on the statistics or on their website. As previously mentioned a retail convention of a 4, 4, 5 week quarter is used by the ONS (March June September and December are 5 week months). To cater for the inconvenience of years not having 364 days every 6 years or so an extra week is included in the statistics. The ONS adds this in January which happened this year the previous one being in 2008.

Follow the Smart Ghost Car

Jaguar Land Rover are developing a couple of clever/smart driver aides:

  • ’360 Virtual Urban Windscreen’
  • ‘Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation’

The windscreen expansion is achieved by having screens in the pillars linked to outward facing cameras.

The Ghost car navigation works on the premise thast we all like to follow rather than lead by projecting a ghost car & instructions onto the screen.

Their video gives the best portrayal of these two aides.

Iconic Peek Vision Agogo

Peek Vision are going from strength to strength.  This clever group, lead by ophthalmologists, have developed the portable eye examination kit (Peek) which, with the use of an adapter that can convert a smartphone into a piece of equipment that gives high quality images of the back of the eye and the retina. This can help to diagnose cataracts, glaucoma and many other eye diseases, which are ready for treatment.

Not only have they just won the 2014 Icon Award in the Socially Responsible Design of the Year category  but it looks as if they are on their way to raising their target of £70,000 over at the crowd funding Indiegogo platform  where, as we post, they stand at nearly £53,000.

“This campaign will help us to set up the industrial design and manufacturing process so that we can produce Peek Retina at scale. To create precision tooling will cost in the region of £40,000. The overall cost of set up will be around £150,000. Costs will be finalised once the initial industrial design phase is complete. There will then be a unit cost for each individual adapter produced.We are working with Wideblue  a leading manufacturing consultancy, and specialists in innovative optical engineering who will design and build Peek Retina with us.Peek received an award from and Mazda and we are putting this towards the set up costs.”

The “perks” you can receive in return for your funding include:

    • Digital Wallpaper for you desktop, phone tablet or whatever for £10
    • One of their adapters (which should fit most smartphones they reckon) for £60 (Eu only). Estimated availability October 2015.
    • A large distributor pack (this includes 100 adapters) which will help you get your distribution chain up & running for £5,000.

We’ll leave you with their video

Keep an “I” on our Week, Small Business Saturday edition

Our articles this week inevitably concentrsted on the spendfest both here & over there!

Whilst we have been out & about supporting our local retailers today we would remind everyone thst the campaign goes on beyond December 6 & of course encourages online activities as well as those uinvolving bricks mortar stalls and canpoies as well!

Small Business Saturday UK is well worth a visit, and we encourage you to download their Digital Pack.

We’ll leave you with their presentation:

Did the UK Spend 2/3 as much as the US online on Black Friday?

With bonanza figures appearing on both sides of the Atlantic it appears that it could be the case.

comScore have already released their desktop E-commerce spend figures for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday and they show increases of 25.6% and 17.5% over last year.

The M-commerce (smartphone & tablet) figures are still to come from comScore but we previously estimated they would reach $400 million this year which at an increase over last year of some 29% may be conservative!

Over here Giles Longhurst, general manager consumer insight at Experian, said: “Black Friday exceeded expectations for retailers, seeing a record breaking 180m website visits and an approximate £810m spent online in a 24 hour period.

This 60pc year-on-year increase in visit numbers to retail websites clearly shows that both British shoppers and British retailers have fully embraced the Black Friday trend. With such a massive amount of money and time being spent online, shoppers have really begun the Christmas retail season with a bang.”

Quite so!

So doing a little arithmetic we reckon the US Black Friday figure including our estimated M-commerce spend ($400) comes in at $1,905.

The UK figure of £810 at an exchange rate of $1.567 = £1 comes out at $1.27 billion which our calculator reckons represents 66.66% of the US figure.

To get another perspective on this if we look at the Office for National Statistics figures (non seasonally adjusted). The WEEKLY December 2013 figure was estimated to be £960.2 million. We calculate that the average increase this year through October is around 12% so if December also increases at this rate we could be looking at a figure of £1.1 billion or $1.7 billion or just under $0.25 a day.

This would, sort of, indicate that Black Friday was 5X the average daily figure. Hmmmmmmmmmm

Lies, damned lies & ……………. Comes to mind.

Subjectively we think the ONS figures are under scoped but possibly not to the extent being indicated

Happy Cyber Monday & Some Spendfest Perspectives

Well it’s here!

Estimates around the £650 million mark for UK online sales today come from Experian but we are somewhat sceptical. Apparently Black Friday may have reached £600 million.

Amazon have released some item sales figures which show an increase of 37.5% year-on-year on Black Friday (even their UK press release comes from Luxembourg!). Their best sellers “…have included the Kindle Fire HDX 7” range with £100 off selected models, as well as the Dolce Gusto Mini Me Coffee Capsule Machine, Toy Story Ultimate Action Buzz Lightyear, diamond jewellery and men’s watches.”

IBM have published their Thanksgiving & Black Friday report (pdf) about what happened over there.

One difference between the UK & the US is the increase between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Using comScores figures over the last nine years through 2013 shows an average increase of Monday vs Friday of just under 50% whereas using Amazon UK’s unit figures only shows a marginal difference of some 2.5% last year. The 2 days though both here & over there we think are the most popular online shopping days in the year although Experian thinks that Manic Monday (Decmber 8 ) over here may be the most hectic day of all!