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Consumer Trends  

Retailers false start over Olympic hopes

The long awaited boom as a consequence of the London Olympics could fail to reach expectations, according to experts
 UK retailers may not get the Olympic boost they hoped f..
 
 

Some of Britain’s most revered retailers have been waiting patiently for London 2012 to get underway, in the hope that the Games will make up for business lost through the latest recession.

However, it is now being predicted that for much of the industry, the Olympics may have very little effect on retail sales, and certainly not to the extent originally hoped for by the likes of Debenhams or Marks and Spencer.

The news will come as a serious disappointment to some stores having earmarked the event as the final leg of a three-pronged attack on the economic crisis this summer. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee kicked things off perfectly, capturing the imagination of the nation and encouraging country-wide celebrations in the form of house and street parties.

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Following straight on, came the recently concluded month of football at the European Championships, which again enticed people into excessive eating and drinking.

However, despite the initial and ongoing hysteria surrounding the Olympics, there are now second thoughts being voiced over whether this event has the same pulling factor in terms of exaggerated sales.

The Jubilee profited from the bank holiday weekend, while the majority of the football was broadcasted in the evenings, allowing for gatherings and parties, even during the week. The Olympics, contrarily, is more extensive; running all day, every day, for the duration of the Games. It is unlikely that offices will be getting in provisions for an at-work party in front of the synchronised swimming. And while viewing figures should still be record-breaking; there is a concern over whether the sports involved require significant retail expenditures to enjoy them.

Another issue may be the continued dreariness and misery that is British summertime. A nice barbecue could have been a popular option to enjoy the Olympics with, but in light of the persistent rain, it is looking much more likely that potential consumers will crash in front of the TV with a cup of tea of an evening instead.

It is not all doom and gloom, and until the excitement hits its peak upon the start of the Games, the extent of consumption is just conjecture. And in a few cases still, there are retailers smiling confidently in the knowledge that the Games will still probably boost their figures in July and August.

One of which is the official department store of the Games, John Lewis. Sales of the official merchandise are likely to be extremely popular, while its affiliation alone will pull in shoppers. Secondly, any store boasting a branch within Westfield Stratford City in the Olympic Village is likely to be rushed of its feet for the foreseeable. Of the 10 million visitors expected to descend on the area, 70 percent are predicted to check out the enormous shopping centre.

However, the overall success among retailers during the hotly-anticipated Olympics remains much more uncertain.

"The Jubilee was very much about the fact people had an extra day off. A lot of people used that day to celebrate with family and friends and that has a very tangible effect on food sales, because a large part of the celebration is eating and drinking," explained Neil Saunders, Managing Director of retail consultancy, Conlumino.

"The Olympics isn't like that really. Whilst people will take a passing interest, I don't think it's the type of event that will affect consumption habits."

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