AFTER the extensive coverage that the ascent of the discounter retailers received throughout 2008, it may come as a surprise to hear that the trend has been reversing for the past six months. From the beginning of January 2008 through to mid-November, the value-brand supermarkets of Aldi, Lidl, Netto and Somerfield achieved an average uplift of six points on their BrandIndex daily tracking scores.<br /><br />By comparison, the premium-brand supermarkets of Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s saw Index scores drop by three points in the last half of 2008.<br /><br />The fortunes of these two groups flipped – with the premium retailers this year actually going up a little over their previous highs, while the “value” brands dropped back two points. Perhaps this is a sign that the recession has bottomed out or at least that shoppers are a little less fearful. Perhaps it’s also a response to advertising, such as that for both Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer this year, which has focused on the reassuring comfort of the heritage brands. It appears that this is something that consumers are not willing to sacrifice for savings.<br /><br /><strong>VOTER APATHY</strong><br />Tomorrow voters go to the polls – or rather, maybe they won’t go to the polls. There are fears that public anger will lead many to sit on their hands, unwilling to show any support for the political establishment. Their alternative is to vote for the small anti-establishment parties. What exactly should you do if you feel it is your duty to vote, find the whole professional political class unworthy of your backing, and the splinter groups pointless or unwholesome?<br /><br /> It seems strange, that in the age of the internet, no-one has worked out a solution to this.<br /><br />Stephan Shakespeare is co-founder and chief innovation officer of YouGov.