Happy (and prosperous) New Year

For the first time since the financial crisis, there are good signs for smart companies this year.

While Gerry Harvey and Bernie Brookes are fighting the online next gen home-based importers in the light of a marginal decline in big retail profiteering, the rest of the economy is getting on with their business lives.

There isn’t much customer sympathy for Solomon Lew’s call for a great big new tax on the less than $1,000 apparel bought more cheaply overseas.

The first quarter will see the effects of stimulus reductions and a global concern with deficit reduction and European sovereign debt as a continuing pressure on household consumption, and small and medium enterprise labour hires.
Auto sales in the past six months both in Australia and overseas, however, indicates that consumers are prepared to shop around for major items while cutting back on domestic travel and “extras”.

The real losers since 2007 have been the large financial institutions that have lost capacity to sell bonus generating bogus instruments, while wily customers have been saving rather than splurging.

The second quarter will see an expansion of small and medium enterprises that have taken advantage of forward orders for cheaper imports and reached out into emerging markets to build sales and service networks.

The very internet processes that are disturbing the coalition of retail giants are opening the door for commercial agreements around the clock and around the globe for entrepreneurs who have professional websites and cost-effective global solutions.

The early warning sign in this period would be the combination of a rising gold price and a rising cost of energy bills consequent upon a fall in consumer confidence after the various national budgets.

The third quarter is likely to be a boomer for Australian firms that have improved the quality of their services and online and social media communications capacity through customer relations management and superior staff training and incentives.

Home prices are likely to have stabilised, the Australian dollar falling back to encourage a rush of tourists following the release of the Oprah tapes and wages for low income households may have had a boost from the regulators. The boost from the expanding mining sector will be flowing through to the economy if the RBA only increases interest rates a couple of times earlier in the year to dampen down the household sector borrowing.

The final quarter will be a rush to purchase deferred consumption goods and services and head overseas for bargain travel and technology offers as people see that the recovery is in full flight. At the same time consumers will become more demanding, expect gifts with purchase and down stream distributors of goods and services will want marketing and sales support to overcome this year’s figures and memories.

There will be heavy emphasis on home renovations, and consumer durables that flow from greater interest in holiday homes and investment properties. Lenders and venture capital providers will be encouraging a rash of mergers and acquisitions in a hunt for superior returns in the coming year.

All in all it appears that markets have decided that governments will be held to account for deficit reductions and job creation sufficient to resume the good life that was there before the bubble burst last time.

For more Futurist blogs, click here.

Dr Colin Benjamin is an entrepreneurship and strategic thinking consultant at Marshall Place Associates, which offers a range of strategic thinking tools that open up a universe of new possibilities for individuals and organisations committed to applying the processes of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Colin is also a member of the global Association of Professional Futurists.

Email dr.colinbenjamin@marshallplace.com.au
Phone +61 3 9640 0099

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