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Football detrimental to footfall research finds.

Retail sales could suffer as a result of the football World Cup according to research carried out by property consultancy King Sturge.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Football detrimental to footfall research finds.

King Sturge’s research shows that monthly retail sales growth during the last 10 major football tournaments (World Cup and Euro), from 1990 to 2008, has actually been lower than the annual average figure on six occasions.

King Sturge Retail Analyst Stephen Springham says: “Those who expect a significant and sustained uplift in retail sales are wide of the mark; the World Cup may actually depress retail sales. The argument is essentially footfall-related. When matches are played at peak times like Saturday afternoons, would-be shoppers will go to the pub or stay in and watch them on television. Local high streets and shopping centres become temporary deserts and retail sales suffer as a result.

“The massive feel-good factor of a World Cup is in reality restricted to a very few retail sub-sectors: beer and widescreen TVs predominantly, which are both low margin products, but also sportswear and football merchandise. Most other retail sectors see little or no benefit – in fact some may suffer, as the spend on TV and beer is merely substitutional.

“Analysis of historic trends does point to certain peaks around World Cups, although invariably these coincided with general retail boom times.  In other words, retail sales did well because the general economy was doing well. Only during the 1996 Euro did June retail sales growth significantly eclipse the annual figure but this could have been due to it being on home soil and a massive influx of tourists, as much as any feel-good factor.

“The prospect of a great tournament and long involvement from the England team fuelling a prolonged period of retail sales growth is a good story, but ultimately an unrealistic one. Unfortunately, economic issues such as employment, taxes and interest rates are the main arbiters for the retail market in 2010, rather than the Beautiful Game.”

In value terms, retail sales growth was strongest in June 1990 (up 7.5%) and June 1996 (up 7.0%).  Both coincided with the national team’s strongest recent performances on the field, those semi-final appearances in Italia 90 and the fabled Euro 96 at home. Conversely, the lowest retail sales growth came in June 2000, coinciding with one of England’s most miserable showings.

Stephen Springham comments: “Explosive as the growth in retail sales was when England got all the way to the semi-finals in Italia 1990, the fact remains that the economy as a whole was still riding high that year on the back of the boom at the tail end of the late 1980s. The figure for retail sales for the month of the World Cup was in keeping with that for the year as a whole.”

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