Sport: international football and shopping

The Football World Cup and the European Cup are fabulous festivals of football. This makes them major retail opportunities.

For the 2018 World Cup half the world tuned in to watch at least some games. Global advertising spending rose by $2.4bn and World Cup betting in the UK rose from £1b (2014) to £2.7b.

World Cup 2014

The Centre for Retail Research has also been watching football, making estimates for the past ten years of the increased retail, pub and restaurant spending when these classic football tournaments are being held.

Our Estimates of Spending 2018

We estimated that the increased consumer spending on the 2018 football World Cup in the UK was £2,451m. This was extra spending rather than spending diverted from some other leisure activity. Additional spending in Scotland was muted because of the comparative failure of the Scottish team. However English residents were not only backing the English team. Particularly in London, foreign nationals from Spain. Argentina, France, Germany, Belgium, Poland and the Ukraine, etc, were also enthusiastic participants in the festival of football.

World-Cup related Spending 2018


£m Spend

Food & drink




TV electrical




Retail Totals


Pubs clubs cafés




Most additional spending went on retail goods, particularly food and drink. Sportswear was another winner along with TV sales. For some reason many people upgrade their TV sets to coincide with the World and Euro Cup competitions. Other winners were souvenirs, barbeques and garden furniture. Extra spending in pubs, clubs and restaurants amounted to £510m, though this figure was exceptionally hard to calculate.

Our original estimates were largely borne out by what happened, although the unexpected success of the England team in 2018 left many early pessimists unable to buy souvenirs and sportswear  because they had all sold out.

Our forecasts were based on modelling increases in sales across the whole progress of the competition, based on assumptions of the impact of exit at the Group stage, the Round of 16, and the final games in the competition.

Our Sporting Forecast

Unlike many other commentators, a careful study of England’s competitors in each stage of the competition made us very optimistic about England progressing past the Group of 16, though we expected they would go no further than the quarter finals. They outperformed expectations by actually reaching the semi-finals.


The Centre for Retail Research has carried out a number of research projects into the retail impact of special events, including the World Cup, EUFA, the Olympics, the Royal Wedding, the birth of Prince George and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

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