Good morning from Abu Dhabi!

So far so good, on my holiday. The hotel is absolutely wonderful - it's called the Viceroy, on Yas Island. There's lots to see & do here, including a gigantic shopping & leisure mall, attached to Ferrari World. Although of course it's quite a conservative, Muslim country, so one has to respect the local customs & laws whilst here.

Although I've been pleasantly surprised at how Westernised it seems in the tourist areas anyway. They even sell Yorkshire Tea in the hypermarket here! Although at £6 for 80 bags, I had to resist the temptation. I'm sticking instead to the hotel's perfectly satisfactory English Breakfast Tea.

The staff at the Viceroy are amazingly courteous & helpful. They're nearly all from third world countries, and apparently there can be exploitation here of foreign workers. Although I haven't detected any of the tell-tale signs of maltreatment & overwork that you see etched in the faces of staff on cruise liners for example. It's great to see their faces light up when you tip them as little as £2, which is a lot here.

Greggs (LON:GRG)

It's always interesting to look at what the larger retailers say about trading, as that often has read-across to other retailing shares which I hold. Greggs have seen an improvement in recent weeks:

Total sales for the 18 weeks to 7 May 2016 grew by 5.7 per cent and like-for-like sales in company-managed shops grew by 3.7 per cent over the same period.

As has been widely reported, conditions on the High Street were softer in March before recovering in recent weeks; these conditions were reflected in our own performance.

This reinforces my view that there are some smashing bargains available right now in this bombed-out sector. Although one has to be very careful to avoid retailers that might be in structural decline.

I believe that the outlook for the UK consumer is fairly positive. In my view, Brexit doesn't make the slightest difference to how much people spend in the shops, so that's a red herring. Disposable income has risen quite nicely in the last couple of years, if you look up the economic statistics.

The issue is that there is so much competition in retailing. Just think about how many new shops have opened in the last few years. They are taking market share away from other existing retailers.


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