The Northern Hemisphere is moving in to the Autumn/Winter season, the most important period of the year for the sales of wool clothing. It is therefore worthwhile reviewing the current economic conditions in the major wool consuming countries, which are rather mixed.
Economic growth rates in most countries are quite subdued. The US, which had been a shining light, has slowed and is now predicted to record a growth rate of only 1.5% this year, according to the latest forecasts from Consensus Forecasts. This is down from a prediction six months ago of around 2% growth. The UK and the Euro-zone have both also seen a significant reduction (as a result of the Brexit vote). In spite of the slowing growth consumer confidence in many countries are at good levels. This is not being reflected in clothing retail sales, however. Of the eight major wool consuming countries, only France and South Korea have recorded higher growth rates so far this year. The growth in clothing retail sales in China and the USA have both slowed sharply this year, while clothing sales in the UK have gone backwards.
These mixed economic conditions of slowing economic growth and retail sales growth on the one hand, but good consumer confidence on the other, is cause for some concern as we head in the Autumn/Winter season in the Northern Hemisphere. Hopefully consumers loosen their purses-strings and spend to match their confidence.
Full details including two chart showing the trends in consumer confidence and the latest data on clothing retail sales is included in the NCWSBA Weekly Newsletter for the week ending 9th September 2016, available to NCWSBA members.