With the news of a slowdown in UK manufacturing during April should consumers be choosing to buy British goods in commercial properties? If enough shoppers made a decision to buy British it would undoubtedly have an impact. But with spending power still falling will enough people put patriotism above their pockets?
Labour leader, Ed Miliband is the latest figure to call on UK consumers to choose home produced products in commercial properties in a bid to help manufacturers and boost the flagging economy. He said; “There are three words we do not hear enough. Those three words are made in Britain.”
This is not the first time a political figure has attempted to fly the Union Jack in support of UK business. Margaret Thatcher once covered the tail of a scale model British Airways plane with her handkerchief to express her disappointment at the disappearance of the familiar red, white and blue logo.
In the 1960s, when he was a Labour MP, the late Robert Maxwell launched the Buy British campaign which fizzled out when campaign T shirts were found to have been manufactured in Portugal and a record by Bruce Forsyth celebrating the initiative sold less than 8,000 copies.
Today Ed Miliband is not alone in urging us to check the labels of goods in commercial properties before making a purchase. Mike Clarke, the boss of Premier Foods which produces Hovis and Oxo, has also joined the chorus.
He said; “In this year of British celebration we believe that more and more of our retail customers and consumers will be choosing to buy British brands like ours, made in Britain, supporting British jobs.”
Premier Foods manufacture 100% of its products in the UK and as part of Mr Clarke’s campaign Mr Kipling French Fancies will be rebranded as Great British Fancies for the duration of the summer. In addition retail commercial property John Lewis this year launched its Made in UK logo.
UK manufacturing now accounts for just 12 per cent of employment but Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of manufacturers’ association EEF, points out that it’s wrong to let this obscure the fact that the UK is still a major manufacturer.
Furthermore he believes we should be careful not to allow patriotism to obscure the contribution of overseas companies to the UK economy. “The issue is not British ownership. It’s about investing in Britain,” he said.
Mr Miliband’s call could strike a chord with some manufacturers though. A recent survey from British Made for Quality (BMFQ) found that 9 out of 10 of its members believe the Government is letting down the UK’s smaller manufacturing companies.
But would it work? Well first of all it would take a significant number of consumers thinking about the origin of their purchases in commercial properties. Secondly, consumer habits are hard to break.
Vincent-Wayne Mitchell, a professor of consumer marketing at City University London, said the problem lies in the fact that “shoppers believe German salami is better than British salami and French wine is better than British wine.”
Should we be more patriotic about our consumer choices? Would a campaign urging us to buy goods manufactured in the UK like Staffordshire ceramics and Sheffield cutlery rather than imported goods help the economy? What do you think?
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