After the Brexit own goal, the British economy needs a boost from the World Cup victory

The World Cup usually provides a big boost to the UK economy. If England make it through the tournament in decent shape, it could encourage people to flock to pubs and throw spectator parties at home. But even before the first kick-off this year, one of these ingredients was missing.

Launched yesterday, the competition is the first to take place in the autumn and could be a welcome post-Brexit boon for our nearest neighbours.

Traditionally, this has happened in warmer months, which automatically boosted the feel-good factor and cash flow in the coffers.

The calendar and controversy surrounding the Qatar competition explains why the 2022 event may be a more muted affair for retail and hospitality companies.

With the shorter days and colder temperatures, fans will mostly have to watch matches indoors. That will limit the number of people pubs can serve, analysts at Shore Capital note.

Even many of the viewers at home will likely have fewer guests than in the summer when they can use their balconies and backyards. Some pubs may be able to reuse the Covid-era facilities they’ve invested in so people can drink and eat al fresco.

This benefits the strongest operators, such as Young & Co’s Brewery, which has more than 100 pubs with tents and outdoor heaters, and Fuller Smith & Turner, where 70 percent of the property has outdoor space that can be used to show games. Plus, they don’t have to deal with social distancing.

The tournament is also taking place amid the cost of living crisis, which may also take some of the exuberance away.

As a result, research by GlobalData for VoucherCodes estimates that retail spending will be 19 percent lower than at the 2018 World Cup and 41 percent lower than at the UEFA European Football Championship that took place last year. Hospitality spending will be 10 percent below 2018 and less than half of 2021.

Electronics retailer Currys has a slew of promotions to boost TV sales, but the economic backdrop could reduce demand for expensive devices.

This Friday’s England v USA game at 7pm, whilst more promising for pubs, also falls on Black Friday so it’s not clear what impact this will have on what is usually a big day of online shopping. Many retailers have brought forward their Black Friday promotions.

However, the World Cup offers the possibility of some additional sales for supermarkets and hospitality companies. Besides the weather, England’s performance is the other big determinant of how much people will spend.

The 2018 World Cup was blessed with both ingredients: not only did it coincide with a heatwave, but England made it to the semi-finals. And the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 win came in the midst of a long, hot summer. Even with more seasonal temperatures the year before, England’s reaching the final of the Euro boosted sales. So far this fall has been warm, which could lift spirits.

If the stars are right and England or Wales advance, games could be combined with festive gatherings to boost trade.

While football fans may be buying less-fresh groceries like grilled meats and higher-margin salads, they will stock up on other snacks like pizzas, party food and dine-in offerings. And alcohol is a perennial favorite.

Pubs could look forward to a boost in sales from the end of November. There can be busier business at this normally quiet time, particularly on Mondays and Tuesdays when some of England and Wales’ early games take place.

That could well tie into the Christmas business, which is already set to be bolstered by a return of office parties. Youngs estimates bookings for the England and Wales group games could generate around £400,000 (€460,000) in revenue. Spontaneous visits should further increase sales.

Of course there will be other challenges. The finals will take place on Sunday 18th December, so the final stages of the tournament could conflict with Christmas dinner reservations. Restaurants and pubs may have to struggle to please both fans and families alike.

Meanwhile, grocers would have to endure the twin demands of the holiday season and football, in what Tesco CEO Ken Murphy has called “a bit of curveball”.

England’s performance and British weather have something else in common: there’s always room for disappointment. But with the full force of the cost-of-living crisis yet to be unleashed, retailers and food service establishments will cling to every comfort crumb. After the Brexit own goal, the British economy needs a boost from the World Cup victory

Fry Electronics Team

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