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EDITORIAL: Coronation and Eurovision delivers mixed benefits for retail growth

Last weekend’s coronation delivered pageantry, pomp and public joy in a sea of ermine and large hats. This coming weekend sees the campness turned up a notch further with the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool. Together, these two gloriously jolly events should, on paper at least, deliver some strong sales for retailers who can tap into the festive spirit among the general air of gloom and despond that grips the UK.

Retailers did get a small boost, it appears, from the coronation, with physical stores seeing a small up-tick in footfall in the build-up to the event, but on the day itself, many consumers stayed out of the endless rain, preferring instead to watch the ancient ceremony – the Duke of Sussex being obscured by Princess Anne’s hat a particular highlight.

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However, online retailers saw sales plummet by around 25% on the day, with partying subjects turning to fun and frolics rather than shopping. This is likely to have cost retailers some £128m at a time when many can ill-afford to lose a Saturday’s worth of trade.

More worryingly, the loss expected from the stay-at-home weekend outweighs the gains likely to have been made in increased sales in the run up to the event. There has been a surge pre-coronation, however this has been confined largely to food and drink, with some fashion and party goods retailers seeing some extra traffic. All other categories saw little in the way of growth in the run up, nor across, the coronation weekend.

A similar mixed bag is expected this weekend with Eurovision. There is a £244m sales boom predicted in the run up to the event, but again this is largely confined to spending on food, drink and party paraphernalia for the weekend. The only ray of hope for other retail sectors is that the event is in the evening, so normal Saturday shopping is likely to occur anyway.

But what is ‘normal’ these days? Shoppers are still shopping, but the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite. With the Bank of England again raising interest rates this week, money-conscious consumers are only set to be rein in their spending more. 

Interestingly, they are still interested in being more sustainable as well as being more price conscious. The upshot of this, while good for the environment, is that there is a growing trend for consumers to buy less not just to save money, but to also save the planet

This has turned environmentally-friendly retail on its head. Accepted wisdom to date has been that those that are eco-conscious will pay more for more sustainable goods. However, while this still seems to be true, they are also buying fewer things.

Once the glitter and feathers of two weekends of high camp have settled, it will be interesting to see just where these shifting habits leave retailers who are desperate for growth.

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