Weekly Editorial

Planning For Potential Economic Downturn

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Write Office • August 1, 2022

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In the book “A Tale of Two Cities,” Charles Dickens opened with: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Of course, the passage begins the book by describing (and comparing and contrasting) the differences between London and Paris during the French Revolution, but it could easily apply to our current economic situation. Is this the best of times or are we on the edge of the economic cliff?

If there is one thing I took away from NeoCon, it’s the feeling that the industry was on fire. Everyone I spoke to — and I’m not speaking hypothetically here — literally every business leader I encountered in theMART said their businesses were going gangbusters; that they were having record month after record month.

A lot can change in six weeks. Dark economic storm clouds are on the horizon, but no one seems to be sure if they will pass by with a quick rain shower or if we will get hit by a full-on economic storm. Regardless of the forecast, it is important to prepare for the storm whether it comes ashore or not.

It is important to note that “prepare” does not mean “panic.” As an industry, we still have a lot of work to do. Let’s not rain on our own parade. The industry’s largest manufacturers are still trying to catch up with their backlogs. Business activity is good across the board. And some economic indicators are moving in the right direction — gas prices are dropping, shipping container costs are declining and a few raw materials are seeing price decreases.

It always seems that when it is threatening rain and I walk out of my house with my umbrella, it never rains. So as you start your week, it’s best if you grab your umbrella on the way out the door. Your umbrella in this case is some basic preparations for a potential economic downturn. A little planning will go a long way should the economy take a turn for the worst. And if it doesn’t rain? It’s likely the planning will still help you with your business.

It remains to be seen whether we can continue to whistle past the graveyard or if we are going to get pulled into a recession. But grabbing your umbrella as you head out the door is always a prudent move.

What are you seeing out there? Drop me a note at rob@writeoffice.com. I’d love to hear your two cents on the economy and what we can expect for the office furniture industry.

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