Even as we begin to see how the world has changed, it changes again. It feels as if we are standing on shifting sands with little idea of what tomorrow might bring.
The future has always been an uncertain place, and that’s fine. We have lived with that our entire lives. In fact, as business people we have sometimes become obsessed with looking at the future and trying to predict what will change, what will be the next big thing.
But it seems like the world has taken a step beyond that.
What we are living through are changes of a scale and speed that we simply haven’t experienced before, and it doesn’t look as if this new pace of change will slow down any time soon.
We like to think that we can see how new events will change our world but I’m not sure how true that is.
Who could have seen that a new virus emerging in a city in Central China would cause an explosion in the sale of hot tubs throughout the UK?
We are used to our industry being solar powered and reacting to the weather but now it seems that we need to factor in how a virus might behave and what restrictions and regulations might be brought in as a consequence of that.
That isn’t a business skill that we have needed before.
One change leads to another
In the wake of the virus came a global disruption in the world’s supply chain.
Covid-19 attacked the supply chain at source causing shortages in raw materials and parts. At the delivery end of the chain a shortage of American dockworkers left hundreds of container vessels stranded off the US seaboard.
As the world’s economy ground to a halt people examined more closely how the supply chain worked and for many individuals and organisations it began to look as if it made little sense.
Globalisation had led to production of essential parts often being centralised in just a few places and manufacturers had fallen into the habit of moving products around the world during their construction. Raw materials might be sourced from country X, while microchips made in country Y were then installed by cheap labour in country Z. It might be a very cost-efficient system, but it isn’t necessarily a very stable or an eco-friendly one.
The supply chain could be put back together again just as it was, but people are beginning to wonder, is that really the best plan?
Change and change again
Supply chain issues caused the wet leisure industry huge problems last year and as a reaction to that many companies have stocked up – in particular with spas – in a way never seen before.
It will depend on consumer demand as to how successful this turns out to be. The problem is that it’s human nature to assume that what happens one year will be some indication of what happens in the next, but we are living through a time when that no longer seems to hold true.
At Golden Coast we have increased the levels of warehouse stock that we hold, but to know how the global economy will be behaving this summer we would need a crystal ball and, sadly, we don’t have one of those.
No change from a tenner
Two new phrases have entered the conversation about the state of the world’s economy; food security and fuel security.
What they refer to is the increasing uncertainty surrounding the oil and gas supplies to the west and the stocks and supplies of food to the UK. What they mean, however, is that energy prices will go up as will the cost of living.
The price of diesel is at an all-time high and diesel is the workhorse of our economy. When the delivery driver pulls up at the pump, its diesel that he is filling up with.
Electricity prices are set to soar as well, and we can only be thankful that our industry has invested so much time and effort to bring new and innovative energy saving products to market. It seems safe to assume that they will only become more and more important and popular with our customers.
This article was written on 18th March, 23 days after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The invasion could well become the biggest change facing the world right now. It is certainly a horrific situation for the Ukrainian people. The repercussions from this war have already spread around the world and it is impossible to form any picture of where this conflict might take us. I’m sure you will join me in sparing a thought for the people of Ukraine.