Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Tigger vs. Eeyore

Yesterday the Chancellor set out his Spring Statement, and was pretty cheerful about the way the economy is going: growth up, borrowing down, debt falling, light at the end of the tunnel.

Yesterday the Chancellor set out his Spring Statement, and was pretty cheerful about the way the economy is going: growth up, borrowing down, debt falling, light at the end of the tunnel.

But on Monday we were given a very different message. Visa revealed that credit card spending was down 1.1% in February, and suggested that Q1 was on course to be the worst quarter for credit card spending on record. Analysts Springboard also reported that both high street and shopping centre footfall was down. And of course there have been some high profile losses on the retail landscape lately.

So who is right? The gloomy Eeyore or the bouncy Tigger?

Well of course, they’re both right – as reflected in a recent survey carried out by IHS Market. According to the manufacturing industry, which is benefiting from a weaker pound, the economy is in great shape – and it is this optimism that has spearheaded our increased productivity.

But the service industries that rely on consumer spending are painting a much darker picture. Inflation is up, wages are still stagnating and people’s willingness to take on debt is decreasing – hence the overall reduction in spending, both in shops and, perhaps more surprisingly based on our current love of experience, on recreation.

So what is the solution? Should we all abandon our shops, bars and trampoline parks and set up manufacturing plants instead? Teach ourselves Mandarin or Hindi and set off to pastures new in a bid to find more agreeable consumers?

Or should we just work a little harder to make sure the businesses that we passionately believe in continue to be successful? Challenging environments don’t lead to the demise of every brand or enterprise. They force us to improve our offering, listen more closely to what our customers want, and innovate our service through better knowledge, insight and technology.

I’m confident that the businesses that do this, while also making sensible internal decisions, will weather the storm until the light at the end of Phillip Hammond’s tunnel finally shines overhead. And if that means I’m sitting on the fence between Eeyore and Tigger, then you can just call me Christopher Robin (Wareham).

unsplash-logoEmily Morter

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