Zak Spade's

Rubber Ball

View from the Far Kerb, September 2020
(My column in a pair of magazines covering Northamptonshire and north Buckinghamshire)
as Phil O'Hara ("Rubber Ball")

o - O - o

Lots of stuff has happened. Things have been shut down, reopened, closed down again; and many establishments which escaped restrictions in the beginning have been caught up by later decision-making.

It’s all been a little fraught.

Various pundits and experts have been wheeled out by a variety of publications and news outlets to explain the economic devastation that has been wrought upon the economy and how things will go from here. The economic situation isn’t good, and those claiming otherwise are considered to be swimming against the tide of reality.

However, rather surprisingly, a great many of them are predicting a ‘V-shaped’ recovery. What does that mean?

In case someone thinks masks and face coverings are to be supplemented by the wearing of V-neck sweaters, have no worry; there won’t be a return to the seventies.

Shop sales are down. Retail has been hard hit by events. Takings in the High Street have plummeted. However, the belief of those with knowledge in such things seems to be that recovery will be swift as shoppers return and spend lots of money that they have been sitting on all the while they have been cooped up indoors playing marathon sessions of Monopoly with their families.

It’s never a good idea to read stuff and believe it without questioning what lies beneath it, so here we go: I wonder why they think that?

While jobs have been lost, there are many who have retained their employment and income. Unfortunately for businesses still able to operate at the start, consumers with money were unable to go out and spend it. With the easing of the Lockdown has come the sight of blinking shoppers emerging into the light of day clutching credit and debit cards as they seek to buy whatever they hankered for during the imposition of closure.

Businesses that sought to ride out the flat lining economy are now faced with a resurgence of activity and they have a choice: aim at being the biggest, most prominent, retailer/business offering out there as the economy rebounds like a rubber ball, or neglect their advertising and promotion so as to protect their capital.

Sticking to the ‘rubber ball’ analogy: the former keep an eye on it, ready to catch it cleanly, while the latter are caught unawares and get struck in the face by the returning ball. It appears that now is the time to make much noise. Ensuring potential customers in search of goods and services are fully aware that a business is open rather than still asleep is vitally important. Those who try to eke out their capital a little longer will be trampled by their competitors taking advantage of that rubber ball bouncing back with urgent vengeance.

In the past, any business that sought to trim costs by reducing expenditure on marketing was usually rewarded by a slow death. As things stand right now, the only likely difference will be that ‘slow’ will be replaced by ‘rapid’ as the rebound takes place.

© 2020

27 March 2023