SOUTHAMPTON and Bournemouth's consumer sectors are among the fastest growing in the UK, according to a new report by Irwin Mitchell which has also reveals how Portsmouth is struggling to match the performance of its rivals on the south coast.

Produced by national law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), the Consumer Powerhouse special report provides an estimate of GVA growth and job creation within key cities across the UK with a specific focus on the retail, leisure, tourism and food and drink industries.

The report also looks at some key issues and threats in the consumer sector and offers recommendations to help tackle these threats; turning them into opportunities.

Published this month, the report revealed that Bournemouth’s consumer sector was the ninth fast-growing in the UK in Q4 2017 with a year-on-year GVA growth rate of 2.6 per cent, while Southampton was ranked 12th with consumer sector GVA (gross value added) growth of 2.4 per cent across the same period.

A bright future was also forecast for the two cities, with the report predicting that Southampton will join Bournemouth in the top ten for consumer sector GVA growth by Q4 2018. Southampton is also expected to feature in the top ten for consumer sector employment growth by the final months of this year too.

However, there was less good news for Portsmouth, with the city’s consumer sector experiencing the largest contraction in the UK in Q4 2017 and also expected to maintain its position at the bottom of the growth table in the final months of this year.

Hannah Clipston, partner at Irwin Mitchell’s Southampton office, said: “This latest report on the consumer sector makes very positive reading for both Southampton and Bournemouth, but hints at a more worrying situation for the sector in Portsmouth.”

“As we can see throughout this report, the consumer sector continues to be a key driver for economic growth in our region and in the UK generally.

“The sector is facing significant disruption, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Generally, the sector is growing at a steady rate, consumer confidence is on the rise and consumers have more disposable income to spend on themselves.

“Having said that complacency is not an option for consumer businesses who must ensure that: they understand what consumers want; their brand is strong and aligned with their strategic objectives; and they continue to innovate and adapt to remain relevant to the new consumer.”