2014 wasn’t all about bad customer service, it was also the year that saw a return to confidence in spending from the general public. In fact it is consumer spending that has driven a lot of the recovery in the UK economy.

Spending, but no massive rush

I think if we all took a look back at the first six months of 2014, we’ll be surprised at how busy it actually was. At the end of 2013, we were told that as a country the economy would fair relatively well. Growth would be in the low percentages. But the pace of the recovery really seemed to take off from the word go as January for us saw us sail past our target. Was it to be a one off? A fluke? We’d all have to wait and see as the next few months rolled by. It was no fluke.

The first six months absolutely shot by, and after talking to others, this seemed to be the same for much of the industry. Confidence was clearly returning to the general public and big ticket items were now back on the menu. Now, to some things in perspective, at our place, we have done as many leads, maybe even one or two less than last year, but our average order value is WAY up. So even though there hasn’t been an increase in leads, the amount people are spending is what has pushed us past our target. For me, that is a clear sign people are feeling a lot better about spending larger amounts of money.

However I wouldn’t say that consumers are back to the point at pre-recession where they would be spending money hand over fist. Leads I don’t think are back at those levels, nor is the amount spent per contract. Moreover, rather than continue to high pace set in the first six months of this year, things seemed to level out and quiet down a bit in the second month.

The time taken by customers to make a decision on contracts is still quite long too. On five figure contracts, it would take a few weeks to come to a decisions on which company to go ahead with. Rarely have I dealt with a customer who wants to carry out a large amount of work and decide to spend quickly this year. It has usually taken three to four weeks, at least a couple of showroom visits and a number of phone calls.

So whilst confidence I think has returned to the industry, it’s not quite there yet. There are still signs to tentativeness from consumers when spending their money. And you can see why. The horrors of the 2008 financial crisis and it’s after effects are probably still very fresh in the memory, hence some reluctance to easily hand over large sums of money.

Whats in store for 2015?

Well, we know very little about next year. But what we already do know is that steady growth in the wider UK economy is predicted, consumer confidence heading into the New Year is still good, and barring any unsuspected disasters, we should be doing alright.

I think that 2015 will be a year where many of us surpass the success we have seen in 2014. I know that is my hope and I will be working hard in my office to make sure that sales at our place increase month on month too. It still won’t be easy. Confidence will still need to be nurtured. Service will have to improve and products will need to get better. But I’m hoping that 2015 will be a year that many will say is the best for them in a very long time.