23 May 2024, 07:11
By Furniture News Aug 09, 2018

Deal or no deal?

The Brexit strain is really starting to show. With a shared desire to have a deal agreed by October, both the UK and the EU are feeling the heat, and there’s a chance things could get even hotter.

They’re even taking more seriously the possibility of a no-deal Brexit – an outcome which Amazon’s UK manager Doug Gurr has controversially warned could lead to “civil unrest”, and, says consultants Oliver Wyman, may leave British households nearly £1000 a year worse off.

Whether all that talk ahead of Parliament’s summer recess was posturing or prophecy, it’s unsettling enough to keep consumers wary of spending big, and that’s bad news for the furniture industry.

But how much impact are these political machinations actually having on furniture sales in real terms? And is there anything retailers or suppliers can do to offset the negative feelings created? 

Earlier this year, I took a deep breath and threw myself into tackling these questions and more – the results of which you can find in a special report exploring the relationship between consumer confidence and the furniture trade, published exclusively in our new trade directory, Connect (read a summary of the report here, and visit the Connect platform here). 

With the help of insight from leading retail experts, furniture retailers and suppliers, who recount personal experiences and suggest how they have framed their businesses to weather any fluctuations, the report interrogates data from GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Barometer and the ONS’ Retail Sales Index to identify how major political events align with shifting opinion and spending patterns.

“Consumers thrive on certainty,” says GfK’s client strategy director, Joe Staton, “and in an uncertain world we are less willing to spend and more prepared to save. That said, saving rates remain at an all-time low – what we say and what we do don’t always align!”

The good news is that while political crises undoubtedly affect consumers on an emotional level, the real spending drivers and impediments are more often closer to home, and present canny businesses with opportunities to sell furniture regardless of the national headlines.

Paul Farley is the editor-in-chief of Furniture News magazine.

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