I wonder how much of this has to do with film sales, and how much of it has to do with the skyrocketing cost of manufacturing? Oil and energy are at all time highs. Silver, although a very small percentage of which is used in filmmaking, is also at a record high. Oil and energy costs are driving up materials costs across the board as a result of higher cost to manufacture and delivery.
Here is an example. I am in manufacturing sales, and due to the copper market, one of our core products has gone up 12% in just ONE MONTH! It is up 30% total from this time last year.
Granted the copper market does not affect film production as much as it does other industries, but it does go to show how the cost of doing business in a manufacturing environment has risen considerably. In a slim profit margin business a 5-10% increase in materials can spell disaster for profits if those costs cannot be readily passed on to the consumer. Of course, that does not always work either as it can drive down sales decreasing the economy of scale necessary to mass produce complex items like film.
Illford has an advantage over Kodak. They are a relative latecomer to the game. Their goal has always been to remain small and cater to a niche market. They designed their product and process around that philosophy from the beginning. Kodak, on the other hand, is the 800 lb gorilla that not so long ago was selling film to everyone from Ansel Adams to grandma Edna. The rug was quickly, and violently, yanked from beneath them. In many ways they are still spinning around trying to figure out their place in this brave new world.
It's a mess...