Three weeks ago a new administration promising change was elected and will be sweeping into the White House in January; nevertheless, a majority of SNEWS® readers told us in another of our occasional Reader Surveys that they are not making adjustments to their business operation going into 2009 based on the election results.
Or not yet.
Although most pessimistically told us they felt a turnaround would take a year or longer (82.7 percent), nearly 59 percent said no changes in their business were on tap for now. In fact, some mentioned investing in the future based on today's opportunities.
"Regardless of the election results, we're facing a stout downturn in the short run. Arguably, the difference between the political parties will impact the depth and duration of the downturn, but sound business practices don't really change. There may be some specific tax or health care policy changes that may cause us to make adaptive adjustments, but we don't yet have visibility of where they're going," said one respondent.
Said another: "Nobody can project how the next year will turn out, financially. Hopefully, the new president can and will be fiscally conservative, and trim some of the fat budgets the government has in place, and also make sure that the private sector gets some much needed relief."
But that doesn't mean that most aren't watching every day like a hawk and keeping a tight hand on the wheel.
One respondent noted the company was putting its employees on a four-day workweek to give them enough savings while still keeping the team intact. Another said they are cutting back on purchases -- again, to keep employees in place. One pointed out the firm will advertise more in grassroots publications. Another said reps will visit dealers more often. Some just mention things like "cautious purchasing," "cutting expenses" and "playing inventory as tight as possible, but not to the point that we will constrict our own sales."
One respondent, a retailer, noted the company would be cutting inventories to reduce taxes and were "letting the vendors be the warehouse,…order as we go."
Lemonade for everybody
One pointed out the opportunity that also may exist: "While we're being vigilant and smart about how we engage in this new economy, we're actually investing right now because we see the new consumer mentality as an opportunity."
That viewpoint was echoed by this respondent: "In a down turned economy, we all have an opportunity to grow with the right focus."
More than eight of 10 did say it would be a year or more until a recovery was felt, the largest group noted "one year" as the time when turnaround signs would appear:
- 3 months or less -- 3.4 percent
- Up to 6 months -- 10.3 percent
- One year -- 37.9 percent
- Up to three years -- 34.5 percent
- Could be as long as 5 years -- 10.3 percent
"Who knows?" or similar was a common theme in answers we heard; others remember lessons from history and noted the past as predications of the future:
"It will be at least 3 years before a true turn-around is experienced," wrote one. "History has shown that the balance of power in the Senate and House will flip in the 2010 election cycle. This will create a more business-friendly environment in Washington driven policy, which will spur investment. Until then, investors will 'hunker down' in fear of what a single-party-controlled government will do. I'm looking ahead to 2011."
But, in contrast, others felt optimistic about the immediate future: "One of the best things to come out of the election is an administration that will put Main Street, the middle class, and our environment ahead of Wall Street."
No matter what your leanings or your channel or industry, one respondent summed it up well:
"Good luck, Obama. You are going to need it."
SNEWS posted our survey Nov. 5, 2008, the day after the election and Barack Obama's victory, and left the survey open through Nov. 18. It is by no means scientific since we only pose the questions in an open and anonymous forum and allow our readers to respond, nameless if they desire although we do ask all to name their channel or industry. Of respondents, 48.1 percent were retailers, 37.9 percent were manufacturers or suppliers and the rest were a mix of sales, reps, non-profits and other industry professionals. Respondents from the outdoor industry, either manufacturer or retailer, equaled 34.7 percent, while those in the fitness industry equaled 41.3 percent. "Others" (17.3 percent) did not specify their industry so could be from either or both.
--Compiled by SNEWS Editors
Thanks for your participation! Stay tuned for another survey soon so you can not only share your views but can also hear others. Meanwhile, feel free to continue the conversation in the SNEWS® Chat, by clicking the link below, where it says "Begin the discussion by clicking here."