Moreton on ... hope during tough times

My last column, some six months ago, talked about "tough times ahead". While I would like to think of myself as some sort of visionary, I have to admit my powers of foresight are usually on a par with Mystic Meg. However, this is one prophecy that unfortunately has proved to be true so far.

The basic costs of living seem to be rising every week, putting increasing pressure on everyone's personal liquidity. This, in turn, is putting pressure on all businesses as our basic running costs are going up and, of course, our people then want more money to ease their own financial woes.

Having digested the fact that all our costs have soared, we then have the added complication of a customer base that has made a commitment to its consumers to "keep prices as low as possible", and is putting up huge resistance to any form of price increase. In fact, our customers want more deals, more promotions, lower prices, increased quality, better service and more marketing spend. Then they want to pay you later and get a discount for paying you to terms - their terms, of course. All this, and I haven't even mentioned this year's weather.

Is there any good news? Well, I certainly can't see things getting easier any time soon. But then again, when has running a business in the produce and horticultural sectors ever been easy? However, anyone that knows me knows I am definitely a "glass half full" person, so there has to be something positive to focus on. And there is - the people who work in this sector. They're a resilient bunch and I am sure that the good ones will be able to weather the turbulent times that are still to come.

Guy Moreton is director of MorePeople.

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