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a blog by Chris Barrow

Why the bad news about the consumer spending doesn't stand up to closer scrutiny

UK shoppers slash spending as price rises and energy bills bite

Talk about "spin".

The lead article in The Guardian this morning indicates a drop in consumer spending, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), that should have us all in a panic as consumer confidence collapses.

On closer examination, what's actually happened is that the rate of growth in spending has been less than the same time a year ago......


Yes - growth.

February sales were 5.2% up on the same month last year but the BRC complain that most of that is "just inflation" and masking a real-terms drop.

Credit card usage up 5.9%.

Valentines Day gifts - robust.

Energy saving appliances - robust.

Pubs, bars and clubs - up 7.7%.

And, I quote:

"The figures were also affected by the lifting of plan B Covid restrictions in February 2022 – which led to a spike in spending because of pent-up demand – making it tougher to beat that level of spending in February 2023."

So, in reality, the so-called reduction in growth is actually false, because we are comparing with unnatural growth figures for February 2022.

We conclude from a closer examination of the data that consumers haven't even remotely "slashed" their spending.

As I keep on saying - we are not dealing with consumer confidence here, we are dealing with consumer preference - taking more time to decide WHERE to spend, on WHAT and not WHETHER to spend.

So, in dentistry, we must make sure that spending with us becomes a preference - and the way you do that is to sell BENEFITS.

Every treatment plan presentation should include a version of the following phrase:

"If you decide to proceed with this treatment, the benefits to you will be......."

Think of this as a "Benefits List" - get a quick PDF printed up on your branded paper - completed by hand for every Tx plan - a list of as many benefits as you can come up with.

I do enjoy a quick glance at The Guardian online as part of my morning ritual (every now and then it inspires a post like this one) but I also chuckle to myself at the misinterpretation of those with vested interests and the catastrophising that the media seem to find so necessary to attract readers.

Once more, will you please share this post with your team - I fully appreciate that times are tight and we have seen an increase in the cost of living - but that isn't stopping folks spending - it's simply making them choosy.

Make sure patients have plenty of reasons to choose you.

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