The government is set to announce plans for coping with a winter surge of Covid-19 later today. At the time of writing, it looks as though they are reluctant to return to any kind of shutdown and that booster jabs and work-from-home guidance will be the order of the day. But as we know from last Christmas, there is also the potential for an unwelcome surprise! So I have been mulling over my best shares to buy now as winter approaches.
My first thought is that Ocado (LSE: OCDO) may well continue the lockdown business boom that saw its share price rise from 1,1380p in March to 1,889p at the time of writing. And if cases rise over winter, I suspect that demand for online grocery deliveries will increase as people look to avoid face to face contact (and therefore an in-person supermarket shop). Group CEO Tim Steiner also said in February that he believes the pandemic has changed grocery shopping “for good”, leaving Ocado well placed. But though external conditions are favourable, it is worth cautioning that Ocado has its fair share of internal issues to contend with – including a fire in its warehouse and technical problems due to surging demand earlier in the year.
My second lockdown flashback is Domino’s Pizza Group (LSE: DOM) – a highlight of those dreary locked-down days. Domino’s also saw business flourish last year, with its share price increasing from 271.5p pre-lockdown to 407p today, and interim results showing strong profits and plans to expand franchise locations. And although a return to full lockdown is looking unlikely, I think that takeaways might still prove popular this winter. High case numbers in July saw face-to-face social contacts plummet as people undertook a voluntary ‘lockdown-lite’ – perhaps we will see the same response during a winter surge. However, from October, the chain will be hit with VAT increases as government support is rolled back, which will significantly increase its costs. But should hospitality struggle over winter because of restrictions or customer reluctance, Domino’s could prove one of the best shares for me to buy now.
My final idea relates to yet another favourite lockdown pursuit: this time…DIY. Howden Joinery (LSE: HWDN) has seen steady share price growth from 441p before lockdown to 963.9p today. After a tough start to 2020, recent half-year results show that revenues and profits are both up significantly on 2019 baseline levels. The press has also been full of stories of labour and materials shortages frustrating the country’s DIY mania. Will we see this enthusiasm for renovation continue over winter? If so, Howden Joinery could be one of the best shares to buy now. But again, there are some significant risks facing the building market: will these shortages actually lead to higher prices for Howden Joinery, and are customers going to finally exhaust pent-up DIY demand?
We will know more about the government’s winter policies soon. In the meantime, I will mull over the best shares to buy now: preparing for the worst, but very much hoping for the best!