January Fever – Emerging from hibernation

January has ended, and it certainly felt like a long month. I’m not sure why, but after the holidays, time seems to slow down, even though everything is super busy.

The saying goes, “Time flies when you’re enjoying yourself,” which, I suppose, doesn’t reflect well on the start of this year!

The news this week was mixed too, credit card and consumer loans, both of which had been increasing fairly steadily in volume throughout all of last year, showed a decline in December. Moreover, more consumers were seeking debt advice at the start of January. And, all of this came on the back of increased mortgage arrears during the latter part of 2023.

It really does feel like economic activity is cooling, which is setting us up for a difficult first quarter. Time to get the collections and customer support process ready and in tip-top shape for sure.

Of course, none of this is new news.

We have been dealing with a rising tide of energy costs, increasing interest rates, and inflation for a while now. However, what really caught my eye last week was the slew of announced job cuts across multiple sectors. Maybe it’s just my January blues, but the list did not look great:

  • Citigroup: 20,000 jobs
  • UPS: 12,000 jobs
  • John Lewis: 11,000 jobs
  • Journalism industry: 8,000 jobs
  • Deutsche Bank: 3,500 jobs
  • Tata Steel: 2,800 jobs
  • PayPal: 2,500 jobs
  • Lloyds: 1,600 jobs
  • Google: 1,000 jobs
  • Sky: 1,000 jobs
  • Birmingham City Council: 600 jobs
  • Channel 4: 200 jobs

Granted some of the larger figures are worldwide, but even so, it does feel like a shock is coming later in the year.

Rather than the rising trend we have generally seen to date, job losses would translate to unemployment and a spike in arrears. It is something to watch closely and maybe a reason to consider a new tracker on RO-AR too. (again time to get double check processes are ready).

In a desperate attempt to distract myself from January fever, I have, of course, found myself turning to social media. No not X (or Twitter as it used to be), which, to be honest, would only make things worse, but TikTok.

Although, I am not sure it has really helped… yes there is that thrill… with the next swipe, I may learn a new life hack or piece of information that is going transform my day… only to be met with yet another video about how to lay flooring tiles, stack the dishwasher or worse fix the drains… but not to worry now there is a hedgehog on a deckchair so it is all okay… and the next time, it will be different!

The platform is just too addictive… to the point that at one point I was told to stop scrolling and go an read a book. It was very good advice, and had the added bonus of making me feel 16 again!

So with screen time on… this is the mission for February. Get out, get involved, and do something new.

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