It’s official.  Our economy is snowboarding on the edge of a precipice. 

 Although I’m not a snowboarder, I’m no stranger to mountaineering metaphors.  I spent my formative years dangling on the end of a rope with my father at the other end, yelling to me: “don’t tell your mother!” 

Well, here’s something that even your mother knows.  When there’s uncertainty, people stop spending.  And this is affecting everyone’s business.  

I’ve noticed this in my friends: even those who want to shop have reined in their spending because of rising costs.  The most explosive topic of conversation in middle England is now the cost of a tank of petrol.  

So what are the winners doing? 

What they’ve always been doing:  looking after their supply chain. 

Supply chains are everything.  They determine how many facings your product gets, and how it is recommended by the retailer to the consumer.   Fundamentally, they also determine whether your product is available at the point of sale. 

So what counts when the going gets tight?  Here the military metaphors come in useful:  supply chains are everything.  Make cuts if you like, but don’t cut investment in your supply chain.

Ruth Ashton