Finance

Lockdown and uncertainty put the brakes on growth in many sectors

This concludes ABN Amro in its new sector forecast for 2022. Many sectors had started strong growth this year, but that growth is not continuing equally well everywhere.

The hardest blows are in retail and leisure (including catering, hotels, travel organisations). While those sectors just seemed to be getting back to pre-coronavirus levels, new measures are throwing a spanner in the works. Every week that the hard lockdown lasts, catering entrepreneurs cost 200 million euros in turnover, the bank calculates.

Growth is slowing down

The leisure sector continues to grow, but a lot less than expected: this year 30 percent instead of the predicted 40 percent, compared to last year. This means that the sector is still not returning to the level of 2019, the year before the pandemic broke out.

Some sectors are actually benefiting: industry (+13.5%) and transport (+8%) are seeing better-than-expected growth this year, and may see it again next year, the bank believes.

The order books are full, especially in the machine industry, sees ABN Amro. Entrepreneurs face the new year with confidence.

Uncertain perspective

Uncertainty seems to be the biggest culprit in the struggling sectors. There is still little insight into when the infections will decrease, whether the chosen measures will take effect and when the economy can run normally again.

Entrepreneurs were able to handle some things creatively this year – think of catering businesses that had to close in the evening but switched to the ‘dunch’ – but the full lockdown also makes that difficult.

Not only the catering and event industry itself suffer from this, but also all branches associated with it. Think of temporary employment companies that can supply fewer staff, and companies in passenger transport that have fewer customers to transport.

Another factor that is holding back is the rise in the prices of raw materials and energy. This affects various sectors, such as the food, building materials and packaging industry. They have to deal with higher purchase prices, and they often have to pass this on in their selling prices.

Prices up

Think of Heineken, which has increased the price of a glass of beer in the catering industry, because the prices of aluminum, plastic, hops and barley, among other things, rose by 30 to 50 percent.

Most entrepreneurs do not yet or not fully pass on the higher costs to customers, but a lot of them are planning to do so in the coming year, ABN Amro sees. For example, in the electric lighting industry, the flour industry and in the processing industry of concrete, gypsum and cement, the vast majority of entrepreneurs intend to raise prices.

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