Does the Easter retail slump spell disaster for the recruitment industry?

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Consumer confidence is improving, wages are increasing and the economy is back to pre-recession levels… Or is it?

Even though Easter is the next big trading opportunity for retailers following Christmas, data research firm Springboard recorded an 11% fall in shoppers visiting the high street on Easter Sunday and more than an 8% decrease on Good Friday when compared with last year’s numbers.

Its figures, which count shoppers out and about and not actual sales, showed that shopping centres fared worst over the weekend while out-of-town retail parks - traditionally boosted by shopping for DIY products on bank holiday weekends - were the best-performing category.

Expectations were high thanks to the recent warmer weather and consumer confidence was thought to be booming. With this in mind, the figures come as a surprising disappointment. Despite the Lloyds Bank spending power report suggesting that more people are feeling in control of their money, news that footfall in UK shops was down on last Easter perhaps reveals the fragility of confidence in the economy after years of squeezed incomes and broken assurance. It also raises eyebrows about the people that drive our economy - consumers.

The news is bound to come as a blow after a triumphant few months for the economy and unemployment but experts behind the report insist that a clearer underlying picture has been brought about by the latest retail sales figures released by the Office of National Statistics. Retail sales actually edged up slightly in March despite analysts’ expectations that the late Easter holidays would result in a drop. With volumes up 4.2% on last year, the blow may not prove to be that damning for the recruitment industry.

Wage growth has finally overtaken inflation after years of falling pay and in turn, the outlook for consumer spending looks set to improve. The encouraging news for overall growth prospects means that consumers' purchasing power should pick up over the coming months with inflation remaining muted and wages increasing, albeit relatively gradually - but nevertheless - surely.

With hopes of growth and expansion and the war on talent heating up, Simplicity and the Institute of Recruiters are seeking to evaluate how the recession has affected these plans for those at the forefront of recruitment. Comparing the results with the same survey conducted in 2012/13, Accessing Funds for Growth in the Recruitment Industry aims to gauge the confidence of those in recruitment who are looking for funding in order to develop. By taking 5 minutes to complete the survey, you will help to provide us with important information detailing how easy, or difficult, it is to access funds to help you grow your business over the next 12 months - It really is as easy as that!

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