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Harrogate Coping With The Recession

Author : Dillon Boivin

Submitted : 2010-02-21 05:46:28    Word Count : 870    Popularity:   152

Tags:   activ, harrogate, harrogate businesses, local news, jobs, events

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Recession Over: How has Harrogate faired in comparison to the rest of the UK economy and how can the small business owner utilise the power of the internet to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Now that the UK economy is officially out of recession I took a look at how Harrogate compared to the rest of the country in coping with the difficult economic climate of the last six consecutive quarters of economic contraction.

Germany, France, Japan and the USA all emerged from recession last year and the UK has been the last major economy to emerge from the depressing journey we have all experienced since the first half of 2008.

UK unemployment fell for the first time in 18 months at the end of December, but other economic indicators suggest that the UK recovery will be a slow one. Gross Domestic Product fell by a record 4.8 in 2009 (according to the Office for National Statistics) and the GDP figures for just Q4 2009 suggest that the economy is far from ďrecoveredĀE

However, thatís the UK! I want to understand what has happened to Harrogate in the last year and understand what the future looks like for one corner of the ďGolden TriangleĀE(made up of Leeds, York and of course Harrogate).

Statistics suggest that the recession has affected the Harrogate District but not to the same extent as some less fortunate areas of the UK. Unemployment is now 2.2 , which is 0.8 higher than 12 months ago, but this is still below the 4.8 experienced in the Yorkshire and Humber region and the national average of 4.1 .

Average shop vacancy rates have risen from 7.5 in 2008 to 10.5 in December 2009. This does reflect the national average and may seem worrying but itís nothing when compared to the highs of 20 seen in places like Sutton Coldfield in the Midlands and when compared with Wales and the West where empty shop numbers have increased by 25 .

Welcome to Yorkshire runs a monthly visitor attraction monitor and recently reported that Hull has seen the highest increases in total visitor numbers in the last year but Harrogate wasnít too far behind having seen a 21 increase. Wakefield and York saw a 17 and 7 respectively. So, despite all the doom and gloom, the current economic situation has paradoxically had a positive effect on visitor numbers to Harrogate, with increasing reports of more people visiting the region instead of taking short breaks abroad.

Statistics can be misleading. They can be calculated in numerous ways that may not seem logical and when trying to understand how an economy is affected there are umpteen different metrics that you could select to gauge how healthy an economy is. However, despite this when comparing like for like statistics, itís clear that Harrogate remains strong. Harrogateís economy has a strong backbone and its economic make up is resilient to recessionary pressures. Health care, bespoke manufacturing and food distribution businesses are all less susceptible to fluctuating/weak consumer demand. Yes Harrogate has been affected negatively by the recession, show me somewhere in the UK that hasnít, but it is well positioned to recover and recover well.

So maybe things will brighten up in the future, but if you run your own business that doesnít mean that you should rest on your laurels. To stay ahead of the pack in these turbulent economic times it would be prudent to start thinking about utilising some low cost online marketing techniques.

Blogging, social networking, e mailing and online advertising donít need heavy capital investment. You can choose the tool thatís right for you or utilise all of them.

Blogging allows you to share your news with the world and your clients with an online diary. You can keep your clients abreast of any changes to your business and interact with them to understand exactly they are looking for.

Social Networking. If youíve heard of facebook, youíve heard of social networking! Sign up, join a group and promote your business. Better yet if youíre looking for business contacts, make sure you register with Linked In.

Viral Marketing is like a modern day, online form of ďover the fenceĀEgossiping. Send out an interesting e mail; create a video, post a message on a social networking site. If itís interesting enough word will spread.

Search Engine Optimization: Thereís no point having a website if nobody can see it. Make sure you utilise the right keywords and inbound links to force your site into the upper echelons of a search engines like Google and Yahoo.

The above are just small examples of some 21st century alternatives to the traditional ad in the local paper. There are countless more but the point is that to increase your brand awareness, your customer base and your sales itís imperative in modern times to harness the power of the internet and make it work for you. Itís not going away. I just hope that small business owners in places like Harrogate donít get left behind.

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To find out more about Harrogate and the surrounding area, including local news, businesses, entertainment and local events visit our online guide to Harrogate,

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