I toyed with sharing certain bits of news this morning, wondering what direct relevance they have for us in the SW. One was the possible cuts to 5000 jobs at Land Rover Jaguar. My father worked in the car industry in Birmingham, and I remember the long British Leyland strike starting as I went to university, the first of our family to go. Luckily, in those days, students had grants, not loans, because the loan system, no matter how expensive, does not cover the cost of accommodation and living as a university student. There is no way my parents would have been able to pay my rent. I worked quite a bit through university, nonetheless, to eat/live. So, 5000 job losses in the Midlands could have a massive impact on places like Bude where many Midlanders normally spend some holidays. No job will probably mean no holiday! It’s not as if there are jobs just waiting out there for people to transfer to as our manufacturing base appears to have shrunk to almost nothing. Brexit (and its uncertainty), the shrinking popularity of diesel cars, and falling sales in China are thought to be the issues. So, I feel for those workers, but also for the businesses which will suffer the knock-on effects, including SW tourism.
Linked to that, we note that retail had its worst December in ten years. I don’t know how things were for local traders (hopefully better) but again, a decline in spending is linked to Brexit fears, with a fall in consumer confidence. It’s another fine mess … food sales remain intensely competitive (as farmers might testify). Rising petrol and utility prices (petrol is very high in Bude, unnecessarily so in my opinion) are having an impact on spending patterns, while big names on the High St are also falling into decline. People are said to want less stuff (good) and more experiences, but this will have an impact on sales of clothing and other items. Interestingly, I watched a BBC programme on the beauty industry recently, which seemed to suggest, among other things, that marketing relies on women’s low self-esteem to buy expensive beauty products. Well, if the money isn’t there, that type of marketing won’t work in quite the same way.
The Guardian article says:
Barclaycard said growth in sales of essentials dipped to its lowest level since 2016, while clothing had a third consecutive month of falling sales.