Brexit Pound: Photographic price increases coming in thick and fast
The effect of the fall in value of the pound is already hitting camera stores throughout the country. Yesterday I was chatting to Ivor Cooper at Red Dot Cameras and he mentioned that accessories, such as Thumbs Up grips from Matchtechnical and various camera straps and gizmos, have jumped by up to ten percent purely as a result of the exchange rate. He’s lucky in one respect because Leica is one of the few companies that have not yet scheduled a price increase. But any new Leica models arriving at Photokina are sure to be priced to take into account the pound’s fall.
Other manufacturers have been quicker on the draw. Andy Sands at Chiswick Camera Centre has had a flurry of price increases and more are on the way. Nikon raised prices between ten and 15 percent on Monday and Canon is expected to add around 15 percent to lenses and eight percent to cameras at the beginning of September. There’s been no confirmation from Panasonic, but equipment is tipped to rise on September 1. Sony has added around 20 percent already and Fuji prices are expected to rise by around ten percent during next month.
Since almost all photographic equipment is imported, these increases will be felt across the board during the next month or two. Established British manufacturers such as Billingham can feel smug; not only can they retain their retail prices in this country, their bags are now around ten percent cheaper to foreign buyers.
Ivor Cooper has noticed a marked increase in individual purchases from abroad, with Europeans in particular picking up bargains while British prices are currently so appealing. There has also been a surge in interest in secondhand and vintage cameras which now look cheap to foreign buyers.
As Ivor says, though, this is a temporary boost for business. As soon as new stock comes in there are likely to be considerable increases which will make British retail prices seems less attractive to overseas customers.
Andy Sands is seeing burgeoning interest from customers who are aware of the potential price increases and want to buy up stock which, in a few months, will be seen as something of a bargain.
All this is a something of pain for the customer, particularly in the field of photography where so much gear is imported. In other areas, where there is a British alternative, the effect of the increases will be to boost sales of local products. Above all, though, the fall in value of the pound following the Brexit vote is a huge benefit for British exporters, including car manufacturers such as Nissan, Honda, Mini and Jaguar LandRover. There are two sides to every coin and there is no doubt that a cheaper pound is good for business—unless, that is, your business is entirely based on imports as is the case in the photographic world.
I suspect that the pound will creep back once the financial markets realise it is business as usual. There is a deal of overreaction in the current exchange rates and when things settle down the pressure on photographic importers could be eased. In the meantime, if you need a new camera or lens now is the time to get out your credit card. It’s also a good time to hang on to all those Leica bodies and lenses, ancient and modern, because inflation is back after its ten-year vacation.