We like to think that, although we are accountants, we always look beyond the numbers – as it says on our Facebook page here. We found a fascinating article about the ice cream van business, which explores the reasons behind the decline of the ice cream van. It’s quite a long read… here’s our summary in 350 words to save you time…
In the 1950s, there were 20,000 ice cream vans in the UK. Now, the trade body, the Ice Cream Alliance, estimates there are between 2,500 and 5,000, but only 10% do street trading.
The reasons for this illustrate an interesting shift in society as different factors impact on this once burgeoning business. Competition from supermarkets, where cheap ice cream is so readily available, is only part of the story. Children don’t play outside as much as they did, so the chimes of Greensleeves often can’t be heard above the headphones… And there is also an acknowledgement that ice cream isn’t necessarily seen to be that healthy!
Pricing of the product is also an issue. The article quotes a price of £2 for a small cone plus flake, £3 for a large 99. To buy a round of 99’s for a family soon gives little if any change from a tenner. Increasing concern about the strength of the economy means consumers are reluctant to shell out their hard earner cash, and it is the luxury items that suffer the first chop.
We have often highlighted the trend towards a cashless society – so the forward-thinking ice cream van owner has to provide a contactless payment option. With changing palates, vegan ice cream also has to be on offer – and even ice cream for dogs!
As with so much of our current life, climate change also crops up as a factor. The perfect temperature to maximise ice cream sales is 21 degrees centigrade. Too hot, it melts; too wet, no-one wants a 99.
This, then accounts for the decline in the ice cream van on the streets of Fenland and West Norfolk – as an increasing number either fall out of business, or turn to the corporate and wedding reception market.
This article makes for a fascinating read if you have the time.