Harry Mottram reports for Print Monthly
Despite the claims by some in the media the Royal Wedding on Saturday may not be the economic boost that is claimed.
Many editors have fallen for Brand Finance’s prediction that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials would boost the UK economy by £1bn. Headlined by such diverse publications as Print Week and The Daily Mail the reality of the cash injection seems somewhat less sensational. Initially Brand Finance gave a figure half of that but they have doubled the number to the sensationally round figure of a billion – and why not? It is after all a guessing game. However with fine weather this weekend people will be out spending for a change anyway and this time there is no public holiday which immediately stalls the economy for 24 hours plus there’s the small matter of an advantageous exchange rate making it much cheaper for people visiting the UK from abroad.
If this all sounds a bit like Eeyore in The House at Pooh Corner then you are right. Nobody actually knows the real cost but research used by the Financial Times suggests there has in the past been little evidence to suggest there is a Royal wedding bounce to the economy. They FT reports the wedding is “unlikely to do much to boost Britain’s sluggish economy. Past royal weddings have had little impact on the economy, or even held back growth, as was the case with Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in April 2011.”
They point out that the Government’s own Office for National Statistics reported that Prince William’s nuptials saw a fall of around one and a half percent in output in the economy. Undoubtedly there is a lot of business associated with the wedding from printing invitations to tourists booking hotels and street parties organised and fuelled on cakes and tea. Advertising rates for network TV channels on the day have shot up in response to demand while Market Watch in their defence say their £1bn figure breaks down as tourism £300m; £300m in public-relations and advertising; £250m retail/restaurants; £150m fashion industry; and here’s the important one: a £50 million boost to merchandise which includes the printing industry.
A billion pound boost sounds good but it is guess work and history suggests if there wasn’t a Royal Wedding then the public would be spending their cash on other distractions. There is the FA Cup on the same day which annually generates more than £25m on its own according to Deloite while around the country there are a vast number of events and promotions that have nothing to do with the wedding suggesting life goes on as normal for most people – as does the economy.
Back to that £50m figure. Certainly it is a welcome boost for the print industry and nobody will begrudge entrepreneurs and printers making the most of the event. Whether it is London print firm Barnard & Westwood who printed the invites or the rather less stylish Harry and Meghan swimsuits printed by Bags of Love in London – we wish them well – and of course the happy couple as well.
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