The road to the coronavirus vaccine has been long, dark and winding; littered with potholes, bumps and wrong turnings. But as the first people in the UK received the jab this week, the nation was injected with fresh hope that we’re finally on the right path.
800,000 doses are being administered across the country over the coming days – but protecting the physical health of citizens is only one stop on the road to recovery from COVID.
Once the jab is rolled out further and wider, more attention will turn to improving the country’s economic wellbeing.
Britain plunged into a recession in August, with many big-name brands going bust alongside small businesses.
Looking back over a period where ‘lockdown’ was voted as the ‘word of the year’, there have been few real ‘winners’ in 2020. But data compiled by the Office for National Statistics has revealed that some industries and businesses have fared far better than others since the pandemic took hold.
Which industries fared best in 2020?
Both the accommodation and travel industries have – unsurprisingly – struggled during a period in which people were actively discouraged from leaving their own homes.
However, turnover in the camping sector was actually up from the same period in 2019.
With isolation requirements intact for travel in and out of Britain, pitching up in nearby countryside was considered the safest and most viable type of getaway in 2020.
The ONS also suggested that the ability to socially distance on campsites may have played a role in the camping sector’s strong performance.
Furniture stores, too, have seen high numbers of customers return after lockdown.
ONS stats found that trade returned to pre-pandemic levels later following the first lockdown – ‘boosted by people still spending more time at home than they used to.’
Data also showed that dispensing chemists have seen higher sales since the pandemic began.
Which industries took the biggest hit in 2020?
The hospitality sector, of course, has been one of the biggest victims of the pandemic – forced to contend with revolving restrictions and intermittent closures, depending on the time of year or which part of the country they might reside.
Over a fifth of hospitality workers have lost their jobs in 2020 – some 660,000 and counting.
Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and theatres have also suffered heavily.
According to the ONS, September 2020 turnover for cinemas was down 58% for the same month last year, despite the venues being allowed to reopen.
Big screen theatres have since suffered another blow after being forced to close again in a second lockdown, with sites in England’s Tier 3 areas still shut today.
Music publishing, however, enjoyed an increase in turnover relative to February – perhaps due to the increased use of home entertainment.
Clothes stores have also suffered plummeting sales – with many social interactions banned outside households.
For the first portion of the pandemic, many of us had no reason to buy trendy new clothes – spending the majority of our time in our PJs, sweats, and exercise shorts.
ONS data did show an uptick in fashion purchases ahead of students returning to schools, however – with sales levelling off in September.
You can read the full report on the Office for National Statistics website here.
Mancunian has been named one of the ‘most attractive’ accents in the UK
Manchester is, once again, celebrating what we already know – our accent is one of the “most attractive” in the UK.
In case you missed it, earlier this year, Manchester welcomed in 2023 with the news that our city’s accent had been named the “sexiest” the country has to offer – with a survey of 2,500 people by casino comparison site Best Casinos discovering that over half of respondents ranked it the most pleasing regional accent to the ear.
And now it turns out that that survey wasn’t a fluke, because a new study has called the Manchester accent one of the “most attractive” in the UK.
But while there’s no doubt we can hold our heads high and be proud of claiming a spot in the top 10, this title does become a bit less impressive when you realise which other regional varieties have placed higher than us.
Fellow Northern accents Scouse and Geordie have taken second and third place on the list respectably, and the Welsh capital’s Cardiff accent rounding out the top five.
For us northerners, the grim reading continues when you learn that the London accent has clinched the top spot.
The Most Attractive Accents in the UK
According to Preply, 21% of women survey respondents voted for the London accent as the most attractive in the UK, compared with just 15% of men, while 10.4% of the population picked the unique sound of the Liverpool accent as second best.
Only 8.7% of survey respondents considered the Mancunian accent to be the most attractive.
The results from this survey do, at least, go some way to shattering the findings from two surveys published last year that found the Manchester accent is considered to be one of the ‘least respected’ nationwide, especially in the corporate world of work, and that Northerners with strong accents are considered ‘less intelligent’.
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The first bright yellow Bee Network bus has hit the streets of Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester residents will soon start to see bright yellow double decker buses travelling the region’s streets in the coming weeks.
With exactly six months to go before Greater Manchester “brings buses back under local control”, Mayor Andy Burnham has joined a number of other local leaders in unveiling the brand-new ‘Bee Network’ co-branded buses.
In what marks the biggest change to transport in Greater Manchester for almost 40 years, according to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), bus operator Diamond – which currently runs services in Bolton – has teamed up with Go North West to run the first franchised services in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury from September this year.
Diamond has agreed to start transforming their buses into Bee Network ones from this week, with more set to appear on the roads every month.
The first bright yellow double decker bus has now hit the streets of Bolton, and is serving the number 8 route – which connects Bolton and Manchester city centre via Farnworth and Salford.
As already announced by TfGM and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), when franchising is officially introduced on 24 September 2023, 50 brand-new electric Bee Network buses will hit the streets on day one, alongside new ‘Euro VI’ vehicles, and dozens more co-branded buses from the existing fleet.
A further 50 electric buses will then be introduced onto the network in March 2024, which is when the second part of franchising starts.
All of the 270 new electric Bee Network buses will be fully accessible, with wheelchair bays, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems, and anti-slip flooring.
Mayor Andy Burnham said the first Bee Network bus entering service is “very much the start of our journey”, and added that the scheme will “ultimately deliver a greener, integrated and more inclusive transport system that will transform how people travel around our city-region.”
Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt also called the first bus’s introduction onto the streets as “a further significant step” towards the integration of the Bee Network and the “transformation” of public transport and active travel in the region.
He continued: “From September we’ll also have dozens of new state-of-the-art buses serving passengers in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury.
“These will be the first of many across Greater Manchester that will, alongside the new lower fares – which are already increasing ridership – and improvements to travel information, improve bus travel for everyone who lives and works here.”