Have we hit the bottom yet? Some economists believe we have, which in a strange way is cause for optimism.
Just because we’ve hit the bottom it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to bounce straight back up again (there is still some pain to come, not least because a further million people are expected to be out of work by the first quarter of next year), but at least we know what we’re dealing with now and can adjust our businesses accordingly.
The uncertainty the sector has faced for the past year has not been good for business or consumer confidence. Now businesses have the measure of the market some cautious confidence (though I wouldn’t call it green shoots just yet) is emerging.
It’s a good time, therefore, for Drapers to publish its Recession Survival Guide this week, which is designed to help retailers get in the best possible shape and emerge from this downturn fitter than when they went in. In it you’ll find all sorts of practical advice, from how to form better relationships with your suppliers, banks and customers and, crucially, how to keep your staff motivated during this tough time.
What Drapers can’t tell you is how long this recession will last and when the economy will return to growth - no one feels confident enough to make that call yet. But there does seem to be consensus that growth will return, which gives some cause for confidence. We don’t appear to be facing an L-shaped Japanese-style recession, where you hit the bottom and stay there, or worse, hit what you think is the bottom and then keep on sinking. So who knows, soon we may be able to upgrade to some optimism.