Recession, anyone?

James Evelegh's editorial from today’s edition of InPubWeekly.

By James Evelegh

Recession, anyone?

Recessions are not good for publishing.

In recessions, customers spend less and spend differently. With less disposable income, people are less likely to buy our products, and certainly less likely to buy the more expensive versions of our products – print editions.

Indeed, when economies nose dive, publishers suffer a double whammy. Not only do our readers spend less but so do our advertisers. Big brands, faced with declining revenues, slash their marketing budgets. They know they shouldn’t, but we all know they do.

That is why a no-deal Brexit would be bad for publishers. That is not an observation about the merits or otherwise of leaving the EU, but the manner in which we depart.

A report in the FT last July on the consequences of a no-deal exit warned of “chaos on all fronts … Leaving the EU without formal agreements would result in instant, harsh consequences.”

According to the government’s own figures, reported last November, the UK economy could be up to 9.3% smaller after fifteen years under a no-deal scenario.

Is this a price worth paying for not negotiating a proper deal?

Leaving the EU without a deal is seen by most experts as extremely reckless. I’m a big fan of experts – as are most publishers – and if knowledgeable people say that large-scale disruption is on the cards, then I’m inclined to believe them.

Economic chaos and decline are not in publishing’s interests. If we go down the path of a no-deal Brexit, then publishing, an industry just about coming to terms with the structural upheavals of the digital age, will face unnecessary additional pain. Hopefully, our politicians will act wisely and it won’t come to that…