As 2022 comes to an end, it’s no exaggeration to say it’s been a tumultuous year for the protective clothing industry. Coming out of a pandemic, and going into an extended period of hyperinflation, all sections of the protective clothing supply chain have had to adapt and evolve in order to carry on doing business. Currently, we find ourselves in the twilight zone between hyperinflation and, hopefully, the beginning of possible stabilisation. So what might this mean for the PPE-clothing industry in 2023?
Where are we at right now?
At present, we are still in a period of sustained hyperinflation. The challenging times have been compounded by ongoing scarcity of raw materials, which have had a major impact on the protective clothing industry. There are additional factors which play a role in instability such as the interest rate hikes, the strength of the dollar, and the war in Ukraine — so the situation is complicated, to say the least.
Where are we going from here?
We expect hyperinflation to continue through at least mid-2023. We anticipate things may begin to change in the second or third quarter, where we will start to see the beginnings of possible stabilisation and a shift towards more normal-looking prices across the supply chain.
In the meantime, it seems tempting to focus on day-to-day activities that sustain your business short-term. In the past year, many of us will have had to place much more energy on handling price increases, balancing purchases, and dealing with supply chain challenges — all done simply to survive
However, as we find ourselves in the twilight zone before the shift from hyperinflation to possible stabilisation, it’s as good a time as ever to start thinking about the long-term focus of your business.
What might 2023 bring?
There are a number of things you can start to do to prepare for the onset of possible stabilisation.
First of all: be flexible with your cost policy. Once prices start to stabilise and potentially even go down over time, all members of the supply chain will need to adapt. Just as we did throughout this period of hyperinflation, remaining flexible and responsive to our partners across the chain will ensure the best outcomes for all.
Next, caution is needed once price stabilisation turns into a price decrease. Although it’s tempting to react quickly and lower your prices as soon as possible, you’ll still be left with stock that’s been produced at a higher cost. Offering that stock for a lower price requires an investment from the value chain. Once that moment of recovery is there, it’s crucial to work together and implement price reductions step-by-step to ensure sufficient remaining stock has been sold at the previous higher cost price.
Also, and perhaps most importantly for the long-term, is a shift away from surviving to thriving. Our main goal, always, is to prioritise the safety of the wearer. In order to do this, our products should always be evolving and improving to provide the best level of safety and comfort. As such, now is a good time to start thinking more deeply about innovation, and what investments your business could be making to continue improving your safety garment offerings.
In addition, let’s not forget striving for sustainability. We all know that the textiles industry is one that is energy-intensive and, traditionally, produces high volumes of waste. Within the protective clothing industry specifically, we’ve made strides towards more sustainable fibres and ways of working — but there is further to go. Start thinking now about what shifts your business could make in the lead-up to possible stabilisation, so that you’re ready to start applying those changes in the coming year.
Getting ready for the road ahead
Keen to get ahead of the game when it comes to preparing your business for when hyperinflation begins to ease? Why not have a read of our brand new trend report: Five Global Trends in PPE-clothing. It’s a must-read for all HSE managers in the industrial safety market, and will help you prepare for the year ahead.