This week many of us will be getting an early holiday season as a bulge in anniversaries means an uptick in public rest days across the world.
If you are reading this in the US, you are already immersed in the long Memorial day weekend with tomorrow’s commemoration of those who have given their life in military service.
On other years, the last Monday of May would also be a day off in the UK, linked to the Christian festival of Pentecost, or Whitsun as the Church of England calls it. But this year, the day off has been moved to Thursday and Brits have been handed an extra public holiday on Friday to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years as British head of state — perhaps by heading to the cinema.
On Thursday, Italians will commemorate the founding of their modern state with fireworks and parades on National Republic day.
Then there is the Dragon Boat Festival, the traditional Chinese holiday held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar — this year that will be this Friday. However, due to the pandemic, many of the actual dragon boat races scheduled worldwide will be cancelled or held under restrictions.
Whatever you feel about the point of these public holidays, they have an additional poignancy this year given the debate about working hours. The greater flexibility needed to get things done during pandemic lockdowns has led many to question the rigidity of nine-to-five working, five days a week, about whether we need to blend our home and work life better or move to a four-day week — as tech business WANdisco has already done.
It is a fairly full week for economic data with both inflation and unemployment data for the eurozone countries, on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, plus the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book on US economic conditions on Wednesday, and US unemployment data on Friday.
So-called dollar stores in the US have tended to trade resiliently during economic downturns and that will probably be the message from variety discounter B&M this week.
Analysts expect sales and profits for the year to the end of March to be below last year’s record levels as shopping habits normalise and costs rise. But, as my colleague Jonathan Eley notes, the company’s scale and its direct-sourcing operation in Asia will help it keep prices below those of more conventional rivals as incomes come under pressure.
These are likely to be the last set of full-year results for chief executive Simon Arora, who together with brother Bobby took B&M from a small chain of tatty shops in north-west England to an estate of almost 700 UK stores and a place in the FTSE 100. He surprised the market in April by announcing plans to retire.
Read the full week ahead calendar here