Squiz Today / 23 April 2020

Squiz Today – Thursday, 23 April


“It was an interesting lesson in how sentiment can change very quickly … and also in not panicking in the early stages of a potential crisis.”

Marketing whiz Karen Madden has seen it all in her time at the top of some of Australia's biggest retail and media brands. Like the time a massively successful supermarket collectables item had a nasty swear word accidentally hidden in it… Please welcome Karen to this week’s Three Minute Squiz.


The coronavirus crisis has broken another record - this time it’s retail sales. March saw an 8.2% jump - the biggest monthly rise the Bureau of Statistics has ever recorded. And if that doesn’t wow you, check it out in graph form… The last time we had a jump in sales close to that size was the month before the GST came into force in 2000.

It’s a super-whopper. And if you were in a supermarket anytime in March, you’ll remember how nuts it was as every square of toilet paper, grain of rice, and spiral of pasta was stripped from the shelves. Except for risoni, which is weird because it’s pasta in rice form. But we digress… The official data shows sales of those items doubling, and spending on canned food, medicines and cleaning products increasing by more than 50%. But we weren’t spending on clothing, footwear and accessories, which is bad news for the department stores and anyone in that part of the sector. Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food outlets also suffered in March as many were forced to shut. Looking ahead, as the economic chill descends over April, we’re in for the "largest decline ever recorded in the monthly retail trade data," Citi economist Josh Williamson says. Talk about whiplash…

Netflix. Lots and lots of Netflix. The streaming service says it added a record 15.8 million accounts between January and March, bringing its global total to 182.9 million subscribers. More than 3.6 million of those new subscriptions came from our region. Before the advent of COVID-19, Netflix had hoped to add 7 million new global subscribers during the quarter, so it well and truly outperformed. But it's another case where analysts expect a crash as lockdowns are eased, and household budgets tighten.



Four police officers - one female and three male - were killed late yesterday afternoon when a truck crashed into the group. It is the largest loss of officers' lives in a single incident in the history of Victoria Police. Two of the officers had pulled over a Porsche at around 5.40pm to the emergency stopping lane of a freeway in the suburb of Kew. They decided to impound the car and called for two more officers to assist. After they arrived, a large refrigerated truck drove into the group and the Porsche. It’s believed that the driver of the truck had some sort of medical episode, and he is in hospital under police guard. The driver of the Porsche fled on foot. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Daniel Andrews expressed their sympathy. Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said it was a tragedy for the officers’ families, and “it's a tragedy for the whole force."


To do better next time around, PM Scott Morrison is pushing for the World Health Organisation or an independent public health body to be granted weapons inspection-like powers to get on top of disease outbreaks early. The US, France and Germany are reportedly open to the idea, but none so far have committed to it. Morrison also wants an overhaul of the WHO's governance and an inquiry into its performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports say he has put his case during calls with world leaders in recent days, including US President Donald Trump.


Currently docked in NSW’s Port Kembla, the embattled Ruby Princess cruise ship is due to leave Australian waters today. More than 600 cases and at least 21 deaths have been linked to the ship since it controversially docked in Sydney a month ago making it the single biggest source of COVID-19 infections in Australia. There are still 1,000 crew onboard after 49 crew members from the UK, America, New Zealand and Canada were allowed to disembark on Tuesday. At least 128 crew members still onboard have tested positive for COVID-19. And as an inquiry kicked off, the ship's senior doctor Ilse Von Watzdorf yesterday testified she was surprised by the decision to let passengers off the ship given test results from symptomatic passengers were still pending. She also conceded she had not updated the ship's health log to list the passengers who were ill until the day after they'd left. NSW Police are conducting a separate criminal investigation.


...Oil. As global oil prices plummet to record lows, Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor outlined plans to spend $94 million on fuel reserves to build up Australia’s national stockpile. We currently have about a month’s worth of fuel on hand - well below the 90-day minimum required by international agreements to ensure we're ok during "global disruptions". The additional oil will be held in the US until we can find or build more storage here. The announcement comes as a new report from the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission found petrol retailers are recording their highest profits in more than 10 years despite falling global oil prices. The regulator wants price falls passed on to customers.


There’s nothing as impatient as a rugby league administrator looking to get the competition back up and running… And yesterday NRL bigwigs said they had permission from the NSW Government to allow the 16 clubs to start training on 4 May and restart games from 28 May. The trick is the New Zealand Warriors, the three Queensland-based clubs, and the Melbourne Storm will all be required to base themselves in NSW to cut down on cross-border travel. How the season will play out from there is yet to be announced.


Here are some pretty pictures of last night’s Lyrid meteor shower. At least Elon Musk didn’t muck this one up

Don't be fooled by the Major League Baseball team that she’s got… Or might get. JLo (aka Jennifer Lopez) and fiance Alex Rodriguez are looking into buying the New York Mets. As you do.

Three Minute Squizer Karen Madden put us on to this video. So many coronavirus ads, all exactly the same.


Start of Ramadan (on until 23 May)

St George’s Day – England

UN English Language Day

UN World Book and Copyright Day

Birthdays for John Oliver (1977), Gigi Hadid (1995), Dev Patel (1990), Prince Louis of Cambridge (2019)

Anniversary of:
• the crowning of Queen Anne at Westminster Abbey (1702)
• the AIDS-virus being identified as HTLV-III (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) (1984)
• the world's first malaria vaccine beginning in Malawi by the WHO (2019)
• the deaths of Shakespeare (1616), William Wordsworth (1850), Boris Yeltsin (2007)

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