Firstly, those that hang around the City of an evening are less likely to work there these days. The Square Mile appears to have become a night-time magnet, along the lines of Bigg Market in Newcastle, for those from East London whose connection with financial services is extending the definition to betting shops and beyond.
A Thursday evening will see bouncers and policemen lining the thresholds of Bishopsgate. This is far removed from the days of florid stockbrokers emerging into the late afternoon gloom wearing pinstripes and a contented smile.
Is there a rash of post-bonus excessive consumption? Not noticeably so. There is already a more than adequate cavalcade of Chelsea tractors and ludicrously over-engineered (for commuting purposes) sports cars swanning into Canary Wharf each dawn.
But I am no more likely to be run over on my humble two-wheeler post-bonus than I am at any other time of year. It is also important to acknowledge that the eye-watering bonus levels are, these days, more likely to emanate from Mayfair than the Square Mile.
Most (sensible) big-bonus earners are capable of smoothing their consumption flows over the year, although this does not apply to the biggest ticket expenditure – housing – with upscale estate agents frequently reporting post-bonus surges in interest.
Financial services income is an obsession confined to London and the home counties. Ask any retailer from Alnwick to Abbotsham, or even in that footballer-fed financial oasis Alderley Edge and they are unlikely to take much interest in the timing and size of these pots of gold. Purveyors of over-priced boudoir furnishings in Brompton Cross have every reason to take a greater interest.
In my view, it is decreasingly important to try to dig out the impact of financial services wealth, even on London’s retail spending patterns. At the highest end of that which we speak, an arguably more important influence is the travel and residency patterns of the über-rich. Retailers should, therefore, heed what our Government is doing to help or hinder this group to stay and spend on our shores.
But, back in the real world, we should all be more worried about the propensity of those UK consumers on more average incomes to postpone the day of reckoning.
Unsecured debt has risen for the past two months. The City used to be fringed with debtors’ gaols. Charles Dickens often wrote of them – no doubt because his father had been an involuntary occupant of one.
It is a good job they’ve all been closed. But, on the other hand, they would be handy repositories for City celebrators to repent their Thursday night excesses…
Paul Smiddy, head of retail research, HSBC