information is power – especially in economics

IN BIGGER economies reports should start circulating at around this time with details of the Christmas and Holiday shopping spends and trends.
Theirs being consumer economies with computerised systems and strict record-keeping habits pushed by regulatory authorities such as tax collectors, the statistics are in most cases easy to gather. Where they need to make estimates the figures are fairly reliable because of the manner in which they run polls and other forms of research.
The reports will tell us what items were most popularly bought or given as gifts, what items attracted the most spend, and what categories of items was found most popular. In addition, they will tell us what one mode of shopping or spend may have superseded the other and for what reasons.
These reports on their own are not the important element – they are supposed to be read along with the forecasts issued ahead of the holidays, predicting what the trends and statistics will be.
When one reads these spend and trend reports and compares them to the forecasts, one gets a general picture of how accurate or reliable the forecasts are, and can therefore take more of an interest in them later this year.
And there, ladies and gentlemen, is where opportunity lies.
If our statisticians and economists started crunching these numbers with seriousness, then the entrepreneurs amongst us would probably do better in coming days and months.
Say, for instance, that it is discovered that it is not true that at Christmas we traditionally buy gomesis for our wives and whisky for our valued client contacts. If, instead, the reports show that we are spending more on fiction fantasy books as gifts during Christmas, then the wise entrepreneur will immediately embark on stocking up on these books for December, and will market them immensely to build on the already existing interest.
Before December, though, the statisticians and economists can help us prepare for the next holidays coming up – be it the January Liberation Day or the Easter weekend. What should we invest in? Where should we place our eggs? What should we focus on to get a piece of the season spend?
Plus, what should we manufacture or create? Did any Christmas Cards get sold in Uganda during the last season? How many and where were they distributed? Perhaps if we get this information we will start designing our own Christmas Cards for distribution this year.
Closer to home, if the statisticians and economists at the district level also put some information together then maybe we would be in a position to identify these opportunities right in our original home areas. How many people visited which districts or villages and what did they do there?
If you knew that 5,000 people retreated to your Village last Christmas and are likely to return in larger numbers this Christmas, again opportunity abounds.
There is a lot to be said about information and the way we put it to use, and not enough done about it.
Our Bureau of Statistics doesn’t do a bad job of compiling and releasing information but they do provide it in a format that the ordinary entrepreneur most certainly finds confounding.
The December 2015 Consumer Price Index, for instance, starts off with, “The Annual Headline Inflation for the year ending December 2015 rose to 9.3 per cent compared to the 9.1 per cent that was recorded for the year ended November 2015…”
Even I am not very clear what that means for my business plans, so Sula the Rolex chap who should be finding a way of increasing his Rolex sales during holiday seasons by taking advantage of the euphoria then, has no hope.
The Index Report, though, does provide a lot of detailed information that cleverer chaps than myself could and should extract and fashion into packets that can empower the ordinary person on the street, along the lines of that commonly used phrase; ‘Information Is Power’.

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