Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It still comes down to local economic (and weather) influences

I've reported in a lot of seemingly negative economic news lately, but it remains unclear whether the current state of affairs meets the economists' definition of a recession (a widespread decline in economic activity lasting more than two consecutive months). But, to take a line from the political world, all economics is local.

For example, there are a few economic pundits who proclaim that we are already in recession. Others counter with other data & statistics to the contrary. One thing is for sure, some states have most certainly experienced a period of contraction. But this has been far from uniform with a dozen or so states experiencing severe contraction while others have experienced some expansion (according some economic indicators) in recent weeks.

While Green Industry business owners and workers in certain parts of the country have weathered recession-like conditions for months (e.g. job losses, home foreclosures, declining consumer confidence, lower business spending), others that I have talked to have been doing ok. So it seems to me that [as in the past] some areas are likely to feel less of an effect from the crawling economy than others.

The main reason? Obviously some areas are experiencing more of a housing "bust" because they first experienced more of a housing "boom." Those communities who learned hard lessons from recessions past and have diversified their local economies will obviously fair better than those who tend to rely on a small set of local enterprises.

What does this have to do with you? First of all, it is way to early to throw in the towel! Second, even the shrewdest of pundits are not able to predict the weather patterns in your area, which has almost as much impact as local economic conditions -- maybe even more in some years. As my friend Bill Gouldin of Strange's Florists, Greenhouses, and Garden Centers in Virginia puts it: "Economic downturns are like getting the flu; rainy weekends in the spring are like pneumonia; and drought on top of that is cardiac arrest!"

So continue to put your best differentiated foot forward, exceed customer expectations, and keep spreading the message about the healthful aspects of fresh flowers, the positive ROI that landscaping adds to curb appeal and home values, and how we were "green" before green was cool (to quote Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery)!

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