AA says upswing may be on the way

Britain's ad industry was cautiously optimistic that it might have weathered the worst of the recession with news that UK adspend rose by 4.9 per cent in the last quarter of 2002.

The increase took spending to £3.7 billion, according to the Advertising Association. It is the first quarterly year-on-year rise since recession began to bite in early 2001.

But AA executives said this week that they would need to see figures for the first quarter of 2003 before being sure an upswing was on the way. They warned that war with Iraq could halt any improvement.

The most encouraging sign that a corner might have been turned is the sustained recovery of TV, where adspend increased for the third successive quarter, rising by 9.8 per cent or £94 million.

Fortunes improved across almost all sectors, the AA figures show. National press advertising grew by 3.1 per cent, or £14.8 million, while regional newspapers saw adspend jump by 2.8 per cent.

Consumer magazines revealed a rise in adspend for the second successive quarter from £779 million to £785 million, while radio spend grew by 3.1 per cent.

Outdoor recorded a dramatic 15.5 per cent rise, although business magazines have failed to follow the trend, recording a 5 per cent drop in spend.

Andrew Brown, the AA's director-general, said: "It would be dangerous to claim too much from these figures. But it would be silly to deny that they're good news."