The UK Could Use a World Cup Win — for the Economy

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The World Cup usually provides a big boost to the UK economy. With a bit of luck, the sun shines and England do well during the tournament, encouraging people to flock to the pubs and hold viewing parties at home. But even before the first start of the year, one of these ingredients will be missing.

The competition, which starts on Sunday, will be the first to be held in the British autumn. Until recently, this happened during the warmer months, automatically increasing the feel-good factor and cash flow at the till. Calendar and Controversy Over Qatar Games Explains Why 2022 the event may be more muted for retail and hospitality businesses.

Given the shorter days and lower temperatures, fans will have to watch the match indoors first. This will limit the number of people that bars can serve, Shore Capital analysts note. Even many viewers at home will probably have fewer guests than in the summer when they can use their balconies and back gardens.

Some pubs may repurpose Covid-era facilities they’ve invested in to allow people to drink and dine outside. This will benefit the strongest operators such as Young & Co.’s Brewery Plc, which has more than 100 pubs with tents and outdoor heaters, and Fuller Smith & Turner Plc, where 70% of the estate has outside space that can be used to show games. Also, they won’t have to deal with social distancing.

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The tournament also comes amid a cost-of-living crisis that could also dampen spirits.

As a result, research by GlobalData for VoucherCodes estimates that retail spending will be 19% lower than in 2018. World Cup and 41% lower than in 2021. in the UEFA European Football Championship. Hospitality costs will be 10% lower than in 2018. and less than half in 2021.

Electronics retailer Currys Plc is offering a slew of promotions to boost TV sales, but the economic climate could dampen demand for the pricey devices. England v USA 25 November 7pm, while more promising for pubs, also falls on Black Friday, so it’s unclear what impact this will have on what is normally a big day of online shopping. Many retailers have announced their Black Friday deals.

However, the World Cup offers some additional sales opportunities for shopping malls and hospitality businesses.

Apart from the weather, the other big factor in how much people will spend is England’s results. in 2018 the World Cup was blessed with both ingredients: as well as coinciding with a heatwave, England reached the semi-finals. And victory in 2022. The UEFA Women’s European Championship was won during a long, hot summer. Even with more seasonable temperatures the year before, England’s run to the European Championship finals boosted sales. So far this fall has been warm, which can be encouraging.

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If the stars align and England or Wales – neither Scotland nor Northern Ireland – progress, the fixture could be combined with festive fixtures to boost trade.

Malls could see a strong run from Halloween to Christmas. While football fans may buy less fresh food, such as higher-margin grilled meats and salads, they will stock up on other snacks, such as pizzas, party foods and dinner specials. And booze is a perennial seller.

As for pubs, they could enjoy a boost in sales from the end of November. This usually quiet time can get busier, especially on Mondays and Tuesdays when there are some early England and Wales games. This could translate well into Christmas trading, which should already be boosted by the return of office parties. Youngs estimates that bookings for England and Wales group stage matches could generate around £400,000 ($474,360) in sales. Accidental visits should increase your income even more.

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Of course, there will be other challenges. The final is on Sunday 18th December, so the latter stages of the tournament may conflict with your Christmas dinner reservation. Restaurants and bars may struggle to keep fans and families happy. Meanwhile, grocers will have to juggle the twin demands of Christmas shopping and football in what Tesco Plc chief executive Ken Murphy described as “a bit of a curve ball”.

England’s performance and the British weather have something else in common: there is always plenty of room for disappointment. But before the cost-of-living crisis is declared, retailers and hospitality centers will grab any crumbs of comfort.

More from Bloomberg Opinion:

• Burberry aims for luxury powerhouse status: Andrea Felsted

• UK housing market gets desperate again: Merryn Somerset Webb

• British families are already being weighed down by secret taxes: Stuart Trow

This column does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Andrea Felsted is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion covering the consumer goods and retail industries. She was previously a journalist at the Financial Times.

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