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Road ahead is full of twists and turns

Are you pleased to see the back of 2008, or are you facing 2009 with a sense of dread?

While this year has been gruelling, I can’t help wondering if in 12 months’ time some of us will look back and think that 2008 wasn’t so bad after all. Retailers have always been obsessed with like-for-like comparisons but I’m not sure if in this case looking back would prove at all helpful.

It’s nice to take stock and relive the highs and lows for a moment, such as those outlined in our Review of the Year which starts on page 16. But it is pretty fruitless for anyone to sit around wistfully wishing that market conditions were like they were six months or 10 years ago. As a sage once said to me: “The market is the market and you just have to deal with it.”

Recession inevitably results in casualties, but many of those we’ve seen lately, such as Woolworths and Atlantic Fashions, were struggling businesses long before the phrase “credit crunch” entered common parlance. The downturn may have killed them off but it didn’t cause their problems in the first place. And there is a great deal of comfort in that.

If you’re a good business, you will work though this and will likely as not take some knocks along the way. Average discounting this Christmas has reached a record 37%, for instance, which won’t have come without some pain. But the better retailers will adjust to the new realities and emerge intact. Many of you will have done it all before.

Despite the tough times, it has been a privilege for Drapers to report on this industry in 2008 and, despite what lies ahead, we’ll look forward to doing so in 2009. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Drapers.

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