The Prince George effect

  • Business
  • Saturday, 27 Jul 2013

The royal baby will boost the British economy

FROM the peace movement of the 1960s sprang the slogan “Make love, not war”. Or if you have a soft spot for alliteration, there’s the more output-specific “Make babies, not bombs”.

These have become quaint relics from a hippie-dippie era, but could it be that the message – that a love affair benefits the world more than warfare does – is ready for a comeback, particularly in the context of the economy?

Here’s Exhibit A. On June 17, more than a month before Prince William and his wife Kate became parents of George Alexander Louis, the Nottingham-based Centre for Retail Research (CRR) issued a press release forecasting that the birth of the royal baby will immediately boost the British economy by £243mil (£1 = RM4.90).

We’ve got to love how the experts can come up with incredible statements and claims, supposedly because they know more about their respective fields of interest than the average person. In this case, the centre at least has some numbers to back up its words.

It says the £243mil is the estimated total consumer spending between July 1 and Aug 31 that’s directly linked to the birth of the royal baby. Put another way, this is the extra amount that the retailers will collect in that period, thanks to the arrival of Prince George of Cambridge.

That money will go to festivities; souvenirs and toys; and books, DVDs and media. For a breakdown of this and other details, go to the centre’s website at

For example, in those eight weeks, the British are expected to spend £62mil on alcohol and £25mil on food “as consumers organise small-scale barbecues and gatherings”. This odd food-to-beverage ratio may result in a surge in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but hey, it’s not every day that the kingdom gets a new heir to the throne.

“It is no great surprise that this type of feel-good event provides retailers with a welcome boost, with consumer hype generating additional spending,” says CRR director Prof Joshua Bamfield.

“However, much of this can be attributed to retailers increased marketing and advertising activity around the time of the event, quite rightly securing their share of the spending frenzy.”

And that’s just up to the end of August. Prince George will seldom be spared the glare of publicity and he will probably grow up learning that ‘tabloids’ is a dirty word. Every milestone in his life has the potential of spawning a hit product.

The CRR reckons that in the next 12 months, sales of prams and pushchairs in Britain will expand by £33mil (a 13% jump), driven by parents’ desire to keep up with the neighbours – that is, if the couple next door happen to be named Will and Kate.

Says Bamfield: “One of the biggest factors will be the unintentional royal brand endorsement. The carriage of choice for the royal arrival will no doubt become this year’s best-selling pram for new and existing parents.”

In the same way that the “Kate effect” has transformed her fashion choices into retail gold, the stuff that Prince George gets (clothes, toys, crib) are set to become must-haves.

Already, it was reported that his swaddle cloth (the one he was wrapped in when he and his parents were photographed after emerging from the hospital) had sold out.

The CRR also notes that there’s considerable interest in the royal baby elsewhere in the world, especially in North America, parts of Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Exhibit B is Thursday’s episode of the Tonight current affairs programme on ITV, the British TV network. Titled “Kate’s Baby Bounce”, it suggests that the royal birth could help the British baby market grow by nearly 20% to over £2.3bil by 2018 “as retailers and manufacturers capitalise on the marketing opportunities in the first few years of Prince George’s life”.

If that sounds familiar, that’s probably because ITV got those figures from the CRR.

Apparently, the centre has established itself as the go-to source for statistics on the economic impact of the royal baby.

So, maybe it’s not a bad idea for us to pay attention when the CRR’s Bamfield points this out: “These are difficult times for retailers and every catalyst for consumer spending should be utilised as this will bring the economic recovery one step closer.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have done their part in stimulating the British economy by having Prince George.

Sure, few other babies will get instant celebrity status as Prince George has, but a baby boom can do more for an economy than can quantitative easing or a military buildup, and at less cost and with more pleasant and predictable consequences.

Yes, to get an economy busy, people ought to get busy – perhaps in more ways than one.

Executive editor Errol Oh wonders who will stumble out of bed for Prince George‘s night feeds when he’s not breastfed.

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