Royal Events: Births and Marriages and UK Shopping

Prince George: Our Figures on the Media

For the last ten years the Centre for Retail Research has carried out surveys of how significant royal events, such as weddings and births, affect retail spending.

These effects should not be overstated, but the Head of State and her family attract a lot of attention both in the UK and globally.

Most people are prepared to raise a glass, buy a flag or eat a piece of cake in celebration, and for some occasions many (not all) are prepared to travel miles with their children to witness an event in all its pomp and ceremony.

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle according to Nielsen (CNBC, 2018) drew 29mn viewers in the U.S. alone, starting at 7 am EST. At the more highbrow end, an article on their marriage on The Economist website received more views in a single day than any other in 2018.

Retail businesses, restaurants, pubs, hotels, the tourist industry and companies that produce souvenirs have to take a view about how much celebratory spending there is likely to be.

World Interest in Our Estimates for Royal Events

Our estimates have received widespread coverage all over the world, including CNN, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, the Canadian National Broadcasting Corporation, Austrian TV, Russia’s Izvestia newspaper, Hello! Magazine, the Evening Standard, Vogue, the Times, the Telegraph, Guardian, Bloomberg, Euronews, Hollywood Reporter, IBTimes, 20 Minuten Online, Wirtualna Polska and (a first for us) La Gazetta della Sport.


We collect information directly from a weighted sample of retailers as well as a random sample of around 1,200 shoppers who tell our interviewers about what (if anything) they are likely to purchase or spend relating to a particular royal event.

We calculate spending figures using a period of up to three months around the royal event. Certain other organisations simply estimate spending on the day itself. While many celebrations may indeed take place on the day itself or the previous day (for example, hotel bookings), other celebrations may occur later in the month at weekends or even outside the holiday season. The peak for souvenirs may be the days before a royal wedding or birth but others may be sold particularly abroad in the following weeks. 

What Counts as Celebration Spending?

Spending is calculated in terms of the additional event-specific spending on food, groceries and alcohol (celebration meals at home or in the garden [weather permitting!]), celebratory spending at restaurants and pubs, spending on souvenirs and mementos, the spending by crowds (if people are likely to congregate in great numbers) and spending by foreign tourists. Overseas sales of souvenirs, whether cheap ‘tat’ or costly ceramics and jewellery, are another source of revenue for retailers and UK businesses.  Online retail spending is included as well as spending in physical shops.

We also include separately indirect sales with royalty as ‘influencers’ over the next year or so. For example the birth of Prince George in 2013 led to immediate sell-outs of the shawl the baby wore, and over the longer-term sales increases for the baby clothing brands, toys, baby carriages and other products and fashions bought for (or associated with) this small child, reflecting world-wide interest in someone who is likely to become King at some future date.  The value of these increased sales we estimated to be £146mn for Prince George.

The birth of Archie, the first child of Harry and Meghan (the Sussex’s), led to some national and local  celebrations and accompanying retail spending as there was a lot of interest in this new Royal subset. We estimated that although the amount spent on celebrations for the baby was comparatively small, the main impact of the Sussex's two children along with their mother would be as a fashion influencers. Our  forecast for the first 12-18 months was a boost of £180m and an overall total of £1.25bn for Archie till he (and his sister) were 18 years old. Since making this estimate, the Sussex's have decamped to North America and set up their household as a separate business, involving elements of public relations, publicity, and publicising their views on key issues, including climate change, race, equality and equity and mental health. This means in practice that the expected forecast of the boost for UK fashion given here can be disregarded. 

Estimates of Spending on Royal Celebrations (£mn)




Newspapers, Books



Fashion Impact*

Queen's Silver Jubilee







Wedding: William & Katherine







Birth of Prince George







Birth of Princess Charlotte







Wedding: Harry & Meghan







Birth of Prince Louis







Birth of Harry & Meghan's first child, Archie







[Figures from Centre for Retail Research]
[All figures in £millions]
*Period of 12-18 months

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

  • 2.9 million attended The Big Lunch events and street parties. Around 1.9 million back-garden celebrations were held plus 3.0 million loosely-themed barbeques and other parties (not under the auspices of The Big Lunch).
  • Celebration spending on food and non-alcoholic drinks was £105.97 million and additional spending on alcohol was £79.74 million. This included £25mn on champagne and prosecco.
  • The four-day break for the Diamond Jubilee generated additional retail spending of £60mn.
  • People who attended Jubilee events spent £25.30mn more (compared to staying at home). The Pageant was attended by almost 1 million people.
  • Souvenir spending generated £196.68 million in retail sales. There were 12mn coins, medallions and tokens with a retail value of £37.50mn. Five million mugs and pottery/crockery represented £21.50mn of additional spending for retailers. 120,000 teapots should increase takings by £1.68mn. Books, stationery and toys should produce retail sales of £53 million, including DVDs and digital media of the main events.
  • An extra 250,000 tourists visited the UK and their additional retail spending (additional) in the Jubilee period was around £53mn.
  • There was a double bank holiday for the Jubilee. Online sales for the Jubilee rose by £139.63mn.

Marriage of William and Katherine

The wedding was held in April, which tended to reduce the number of street parties. June would have been better.

  • 1/2mn bottles of champagne, 3.5mn commemorative mugs and pottery, 5mn coins and tokens, 360000 extra tourists, and lots of flags and symbols.
  • Total spending on merchandise reached £157.5 million (excluding food items).
  • The biggest sellers were souvenirs including tea towels, tea caddies, trays and models worth £26.9mn.
  • Commemorative books, biographies and albums - around 1.5 million units worth £22.5 million.

The additional Bank Holiday meant that most shops were closed, which enabled additional online sales of £90.7mn (17.2% of the extra retail spending) to occur.

Birth of Prince George

The growing interest throughout the world in the first child of William and Katherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, had significant implications for retail sales and suppliers. The date of the royal birth has been announced as 13 July 2013. The new baby, male or female, will immediately become third in line to the throne.
The Centre for Retail Research estimated that the birth boosted linked-in retail sales by around £243 million. This figure covered the nine weeks between 1 July 2013 and 31 August.


£87 million

Souvenirs and toys

£80 million

Books, DVDs and Media

£76 million


£243 million

In the first year, extra spending on the brands purchased for or used by the new prince were equivalent to £145mn-influenced sales, made up of prams and pushchairs, the baby's clothes, its crib, its toys and any product associated with the baby or its parents.

Here’s how many Americans watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding - read more...(offsite link opens in a new window)

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