Topic overview

Sector trends

Engineers having a conversation at a building site

This section of the website explains the main trends that affect particular business sectors - around 200 business sectors in all. While each sector is affected by changes that are happening on a daily and weekly basis, the major trends are often the gradual result of changes that happened long ago. If you understand these changes, you can get an insight into how the sector works and how it will continue to change in the future.

Below are five good examples.

  1. Businesses have to comply with more and more rules every year, as new legislation keeps being added. Much of this is centred on tax (and tax allowances) and payroll matters such as childcare vouchers, student loans, sick pay, maternity pay and pension contributions. So one might expect the workload of accounting firms and bookkeepers to be soaring. Yet the increasing computerisation of this work means that businesses (using inexpensive payroll services) can now handle more of this work themselves.
  2. The Net Book Agreement, which had allowed publishers to control the retail prices of their books, ended back in the 1990s. Some retailers began discounting books as a way of attracting customers. This seismic change, along with the arrival of the online giant Amazon, is still having an impact today. The Works is a national chain of discount book shops with over 500 stores in the UK, in a market where the last of the traditional independent bookshops continue to go out of business.
  3. Demand for childcare services has grown steadily over the last few years. Why is that? It is because the number of single-parent working mothers is increasing, women are having children later in life, and women want to return to a well-established career after having a baby. In other words, there are more and more women in work
  4. The recruitment industry tends to follow trends in the economy as a whole. A prosperous economy means high employment and busy recruitment agencies. But legislation has had a negative impact on the growth of the sector. One of the most important changes made restricts the circumstances under which recruiters may charge 'temp to perm' and other transfer fees when a temporary worker transfers to a hirer. Another important change saw the extension to temporary workers of many of the employment rights already enjoyed by permanent staff.
  5. Lastly, new sectors appear and other sectors disappear over time. The pet grooming sector barely existed 25 years ago, but now the UK pet industry is a multi-billion pound business with pet owners regularly spending large sums on pampering their animals. Conversely, few people nowadays buy records, or rent videos, or get a car alarm installed.

NOTE: The information in the sector articles was last updated in July 2019, just before the content was purchased from another publisher. But we believe that it will remain useful information for many years to come.

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