Driving a Recovery

Driving a Recovery


Could it be that American consumers are finally coming out of hiding? Is the lens cap indeed coming off the recession?

While we're not about to proclaim the recession is over, there are signs lately that consumers aren't simply restricting their budgets to necessities. They are actually starting to buy a few things they want. That's an important shift in consumer behavior over the last few months.

Gone is the panic, and while it hasn't exactly been replaced with the free-wheeling spending habits we saw prior to the fall, the move to “cautious” is a welcome step up.

“We seem to have gone through that phase of frugality when everyone was in saving mode, fearful of what the next month might bring,” began financial analyst Martha Refik. “We're entering a phase now where consumer spending can actually be a factor in this recovery.”

The plain fact is, without it, a recovery could take years, as consumer spending has always been the major driver of economic growth after past recessions. It accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity in this country.

The numbers we're seeing are encouraging, though many are being measured against this time last year—the depths of this recession—so increases reported now are really more of a return to normal patterns, rather than big gains.

That said, any up-tick is cause for optimism. The fact the “desire to buy” appears to be back in the consumer mindset has been viewed as good news as we head into the summer months.

“We are seeing sales come back across much of retail, including the electronics sector,” Refik added. “I wouldn't call it robust growth but it is definitely growth, and the sentiment is that consumers are a little braver now.”

A True Resource

We've always preached the incredible value of being the “resource” and the true “expert” on all things imaging for your location. That's going to be more vital than ever in the next year as business begins creeping back. Creating perceived value is how you'll separate your business from your competitors. Developing a base of customers that think the world of you and what you offer is critical as you begin the climb back.

“There exists that group of customers who really notice and place tremendous value on great customer service and expert advice,” Refik said. “These people can't wait to share these experiences and tell all how much they love your location. Find and cater to this group and they'll become the best marketing program you've ever developed…and it won't cost a dime.”

She's right—and if this is something you feel you've already done, think again and attack it anew. The clouds appear to be lifting and a potentially exciting second half of 2010 is in the offing. Even though the fat lady hasn't starting singing just yet with regard to the economy, she may at least be clearing her throat.

Michael McEnaney