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Not for the first time in my life, I am convinced our news media is playing an unfathomable role in potentially talking itself and, in turn, particular groups of UK consumers and businesses into a recession. Newly published figures show that the UK is the only European country not to show economic growth in the first part of the year and the Bank of England has stated we will enter a recession in 2023, albeit not as bad as initially predicted. Has anyone noticed how many economic forecasts have turned out to be spectacularly wrong?
Am I the only person who believes that if you and everyone around you keeps telling you something bad is going to happen, it inevitably will become a self-fulfilling prophecy? There are indeed some journalists, influenced by their own political ideology, who are determined to see us fail. So, I have to question the effect on general consumer confidence and the associated economic downturn ripple when news outlets constantly churn out negativity.
Of course, there can be no denying the cost of living crisis is impacting lives throughout the UK and there will be too many households experiencing real hardship up and down the country. However, the reality, in my opinion, is that this is not anything new. In any society there will always, unfortunately, be those who struggle to make ends meet more so than others and this is very likely to be the case, ad infinitum.
Yet the endless media coverage about struggling consumers and warnings from economists predicting financial doom and gloom, appears only to be fueling the cycle for those already experiencing hardship and with very little they can do about it, when the overall situation in the UK is far more nuanced. Because, paradoxically, if you try to book a decent restaurant, bar or theatre ticket at short notice in any major town or city in the UK, good luck to you – because it is very likely to be full.
Over the last few months, the UK economy lost more working days to strikes than in any six-month period over the previous 30 years. Yet despite this, UK business expectations for 2023 hit their highest level in eight months but I do not recall seeing this making prime time news.
Another paradox that flies in the face of news reports of falling consumer confidence is the explosive increase in holiday bookings. The UK’s largest independent travel operator has stated bookings in the early part of 2023 were up 75% over the same period in 2022 and, of course, 2022 was a bumper year for holiday travel with many people taking their first trip abroad since before the pandemic.
And of course, this is an excellent segue back to our industry, where after an exceptionally good 2022, we are again seeing the tanning season start early. Securing that base tan before jetting off on holiday is always a prerequisite for anyone who knows anything about responsible tanning. So professional indoor tanning salons are already reaping the rewards of the holiday bookings spike and it certainly appears that we can look forward to another excellent year for our industry.
Whilst negativity may well be breeding contempt in our news media, it’s also a fact that nothing kills off motivation and productivity in a workplace more quickly than bad vibes. And I guess that is another reason why our industry continues to rise above everything that has been thrown at it because who doesn’t enjoy working in an environment where your primary objective is to deliver a professional and responsible tanning service that makes people look and feel great?
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary is Managing Director of the UK subsidiary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products and spray systems. He is also Chairman of the Media Committee for the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
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