US retail sales tell a sorry story about the state of underlying demand. US sales at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest store chain, have failed to grow for 6 consecutive quarters, with shopper traffic falling 1.1% in Q2. The company’s explanation for the problems is worth pondering by anyone in business: It is facing intense competition […]
Tag Archives | retail trends
The world changes, and successful companies and people learn to change with it. That was the blog’s experience 20 years ago in one of ICI’s most profitable business. As an executive team, we expected recessions to take place every 3-4 years. But we began to realise we were being too cautious in our strategies, and missing opportunities. […]
Tesco is the world’s 3rd largest retailer, operating in most major markets. A new analysis by its CEO, Philip Clarke, confirms that a generational change is underway in Western shopping patterns. Writing in the Financial Times, he notes: • ‘Britons are economising in ways I have never seen in my 30 years in grocery retailing’ […]
Brent oil prices have just finished a record sequence of 240 days above $100/bbl. This was longer than the 170 days in 2008. And longer, on an inflation-adjusted basis, than in any previous period of high oil prices. In Europe, prices were actually higher than in 2008 due to the lower value of the euro […]
Since 2007, every spring sees a rush of forecasters to claim that – finally – the US housing market has hit bottom. Sadly, for those trapped in foreclosure, and for those in the chemical industry who depend on housing sales, there is little real evidence today for such optimism. Housing also provides a good example […]
Many analysts have argued that demand in India could easily replace volumes lost due to a slowing Western economy. Sadly, this week has provided further evidence of why this is merely wishful thinking. As the chart shows, India’s GDP is the same size as Canada’s. But India’s 1.4bn people means its GDP/capita is only $1371, […]
Wall Street analysts have their bonuses to consider at this time of year. So it is no surprise that they are talking up the prospects for the Christmas season – the peak shopping period of the year in the West. But those involved in shipping goods don’t see the same rosy picture: • In August, […]
The world’s leading retailers have been extremely reliable leading indicators for the chemical industry, since the Great Recession began. They were the first, back in July 2007, to highlight the major changes underway in consumer markets. Tesco, the world’s 3rd largest retailer, warned then that they were changing their focus away from more affluent shoppers […]
The blog is a great believer in the predictive power of the retail sector. Wal-Mart and Tesco were the first to spot the downturn in the summer of 2007, a year before it became obvious to everyone else. Now Wal-Mart’s problems are providing some important messages about how companies need to adjust their strategies to […]
More evidence is emerging of the major changes taking place in Western retailing as we transition to the New Normal. Last week, my fellow blogger Doris de Guzman reported from the World Detergents conference that: • P&G’s CEO Robert McDonald noted that in “the last 18 months, 60% of all new laundry and detergent products […]
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Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry.
The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts.
Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.