Could the coronation of King Charles III help lift the UK’s post-Covid retail industry? Our retail reporter Laura McGuire finds out.
March has proved to be another challenging month for the retail industry as sales fell 0.9 per cent due to soaring living costs and the third wettest March in history.
However, with Royal celebrations just around the corner and an extra two day’s off during May, retailers are pinning their hopes on a ‘mega May’ to drive sales up and pocket some much needed extra revenues.
Figures from the Centre for Retail Research predict that spending during the King’s Coronation will come in at more than £1.4bn, with patriotic Brits expected to splash out on merchandise and restaurant meals to celebrate the occasion.
Richard Goodall, managing director of Power EPOS said: “It’s clear excitement for the Coronation is building, with demand for party wear peaking as we approach the Bank Holiday weekend. “
Goodall’s own research found that spending on party items such as Union Jack balloons and banners could reach up to £9.8m alone.
“With the last coronation taking place 69 years ago, it’s certainly a once in a lifetime event,” he added.
Charles Hope, retail, gaming and consumer principal at technology consultancy BJSS, explained:“ As we look towards the summer, several bank holidays plus the King’s Coronation should give Retail a much-needed shot in the arm – especially when we consider that last year’s Jubilee provided an estimated £87 million sales boost.”
This “once in a lifetime” momentum will be something that retailers will be keen to capitalise on as March retail figures published by the ONS this morning showed that non-food sales fell by 1.3 per cent as shoppers were cautious to splash out clothing and other goods.
Jacqui Baker, head of retail at RSM UK and chair of ICAEW’s Retail Group, said: “Consumer confidence remains below par as people are still keeping a close eye on budgets and steering away from making non-essential purchases or going out.”
Wet and temperamental British weather also was a driving force in the sales dip, as rain showers deterred the public from hitting the high street.
However, the sector is holding out hope that May will follow its traditional forecast of sunny and dry conditions to draw consumers back to shops.
Nick Delis, senior vice president of International and Strategic Business, Five9, said.: “With warmer weather and the coronation on its way, there’s much for retailers to be hopeful about in terms of higher spend. What matters most is ensuring they stay attractive to consumers and keep them coming back for more.”
“Retailers are optimistic for the big events on the Spring calendar such as the King’s Coronation, and other bank holidays,” added Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium.
“However, the removal of government support for household bills from this month will mean consumer discretionary spend will be under additional pressure.”
She explained: “We need government to help retailers keep prices down and shore up consumer confidence by ensuring any additional regulatory burdens are kept to a minimum, as these additional cost pressures will inevitably mean that consumers will be further squeezed.”