Ciaran Myles, Research, Marketing & Insights Manager, WSTA
As we edge further along the Brexit timeline with limited and, at times contradictory information coming from Government, discontent from both Brexiters and Remainers alike, an ever-watchful press and volatile world markets, one thing remains constant: the world keeps turning. By this I mean that despite all the political white noise, someone has to get on with looking at how the country and the economy are performing. Whilst the old adage ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’ may ring true in parts of Westminster, the likes of the ONS, the OBR and the Bank of England continue to crunch the numbers.
For those looking to find the accurate data amidst this noise I would point you in the direction of a couple of source that can be used as reference, starting with the ONS who have created a dashboard showing key trends and stats on the economy. Outlining quarterly economic output, demand thereof, wages, prices and trade, it’s fairly easy to understand and use with links to more detail further into their website. A major issue for our industry at the moment is the devaluation of the pound, so you might want to keep an eye out for the effect it may have on prices and demand. I also point you in the direction of Carlo’s latest blog piece on the impact of the currency devaluation on the wine trade, which will add context to our industry.
The ONS also issue a monthly economic review here, outlining and updating economic activity estimates for the previous quarter. Basically, it’s a more in-depth version of the dashboard. Given that inflationary increases in alcohol duty are penned into the Government’s forecast, it might also be wise to keep an eye on inflation here. The language can be a little dense but it’s usually fairly well-hyperlinked to other ONS publications that will explain what everything means.
Brexit has of course brought into focus the UK as a great trading nation, none more so than through the well-established routes of wine and spirits. This will be a key ask of Government as the WSTA works with it on developing future trade deals but in the meantime the HMRC tradeinfo website can provide some stats for our industry and you can build and export tables yourself here. This website breaks down all imports and exports by commodity code and country of origin, so it’s good for tracking where wine comes from and where spirits go to. The interface can be clunky, loading can be laborious and HMRC doesn’t display results in volume metrics (only KG mass), which is disappointing. But it does break down by month – usually with a three month lag (this sounds like a big lag but this is pretty good going for Government data) – which enables you to plot recent trendlines. I’m happy to walk you through its use or you can contact me if you have any specific queries you want me to look into.
Finally, as part of the Autumn statement the Office of Budget Responsibility published a suite of economic data. This includes growth forecasts and the impact of decision on taxes and spending. More importantly it projects future revenues from wines and spirits and provides details of current receipts. It also includes forecasts for future consumption of wines and spirits, but even this data is subject to scrutiny
Don’t let anyone tell you that any data since the referendum is a sign that Brexit has either ruined our economy or saved it, no one can legitimately comment on this yet. What is certain is that whilst the road ahead comes with many concerns it also presents many opportunities – which is exciting - and these data will help us identify the right ones so we can properly and accurately advise our members as well as the Government. You will find that in the coming months and years, we will be using more and more international and trade data in our publications too.