Red wine, live music and return to the office are Barry's 2023 predictions
Somebody once told me that you should be very careful about putting in writing ideas and comments that could eventually make you look stupid. But I have mostly ignored that advice over the years, so here are my predictions for 2023 that no doubt somebody will write a sarcastic blog about next January!
Let’s start with the serious stuff. It seems inevitable that UK house prices will continue to fall as the Help-To-Buy stimulus is removed, and higher interest rates drain affordability. I think the fall could be quite sharp, but the floor is fairly high because of the embarrassing national levels of supply of new stock.
We will see a continuation of the return to work with the average days in the office rising above 3.5 per week. Most growth businesses have now established that extensive home-working isn’t effective long-term, and the majority of ambitious employees are reaching the same conclusion.
This year will also see office investors and large occupiers suddenly wake up and notice the MEES tsunami gathering pace on the horizon. With over 2/3rd of UK offices incapable of being occupied in their current form in April 2030, the intervening 7 years will disappear very quickly. This is going to lead to a clear bifurcation of the office market but also a stampede from growth occupiers for best-in-class offices leading to higher rents.
Socially, 2023 should finally be the breakthrough year for autonomous vehicles in the UK, with ‘drivers’ being allowed to get stuck into Netflix rather than traffic on main roads. Once this demonstrates that robots are much better safer drivers than most humans, and that human time and energy has much better uses, I expect driving to become an eccentric (and expensive) hobby some time in the next decade.
After years of neglect and decline, 2023 will see the beginning of the fight-back of live music venues. With more bands and singers touring and a renewed hunger for live musical experiences spurred on by pandemic absence, I am expecting more UK music venues to open than close this year. We are already seeing restaurants, cafes and even shops joining traditional venues in adding musical performances to their experience curation, and I am expecting music venues to also form part of the rebirth of the High Street.
Given the global economic turbulence, many investors are reviewing their allocations, but one area which is sure to see growth is health-tech, not least because this is the direction that the large tech firms are pivoting towards. One particular area of health-tech that has been woefully neglected historically is FemTech, but given high adoption rates and a very lucrative consumer market, I am expecting to see significant growth in FemTech investment in 2023.
One of the unforeseen consequences of global warming is that the best crops to grow in certain locations. One of the primary beneficiaries is the UK wine industry. We have been making some very decent, and even award-winning, sparkling and white wines now for many years, but 2023 will be the year when the UK wins its first international award for a red wine, sparking still more agricultural land to be converted to vineyards.
And finally, making up for their football final misery, France will win the rugby union World Cup in front of their raucous fans in Paris in November. The end of a fascinating and fantastic 2023, and a time to review just how wrong I was!