The Kate Factor: Can the Duchess Save UK Retail?

Oxford Street, London

Can Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge actually make numbers lie?  The answer is yes. Well she, the sun and a very advantageous holiday schedule combined can.  According to the Office of National Statistics, the UK experienced an increase in sales of textile and clothing of over 2% in volume and close to 4% in value during the month of April.   These numbers stand in stark contrast to the economic picture being painted by prime minister David Cameron and his economic team which portrays the UK’s economy in a nosedive even if its people don’t seem to get the reality.  So, what gives?

It seems good weather, an unusual amount of time off from work (bank holidays as they are known across the pond) and euphoria surrounding the royal wedding of HRH Price William and Katherine Middleton, got people out into the streets and shopping.  Although London is usually known for its rainy climate in April, the weeks leading up to the royal wedding (which also coincided with a later than usual Easter holiday and other fortunately scheduled bank holidays) were blue skies and often upwards of 70 degrees.  Perfect weather to get out, walk around and shop!  Plus, with all the beautifying of London for the big day and the country’s obsession with every single detail of Kate’s wardrobe, its hard to wonder that anyone was doing anything other than shopping trying to get their best “kateesque” outfit.

However, before the UK starts to celebrate having avoided the recessionary pit that hit us Americans, Barry Knight,  head of retail at business adviser Grant Thornton UK, advises that April’s financials should be taken with a grain of salt. He explains, “I would express a word of caution about these figures as I don’t think they tell the full story of the state of the retail sector’s health. If you dissect the figures, I believe the warm weather, which has driven sales of fashion, garden, and outdoor goods to name a few, has kept sales flat at best in real terms. With inflation running at around 4.5%, and the royal wedding accounting for an uplift of 2% – ie 6.5% – the reported number of 6.2%, seasonally adjusted, in real terms could be negative by 0.3%”.

Geez, nothing like raining on a parade.  The real story will come after May’s retail numbers are in and can be compared with last year’s same store results.  Most experts think the numbers will be flat, if not show a decline in consumer spending.  So, what can be done?  More royal inspiration to buoy negative sentiment? The Duchess should take a page from Michelle Obama’s book and use her style influence to encourage her MEGA fan base to get out, spend and support British brands.   She did a lovely job of doing exactly this today by wearing a Reiss Shola bandage dress for her meeting with the Obamas, and subsequently crashing the Reiss website with the millions of girls trying to emulate her style by getting the dress online:

She did the same thing with her white Reiss dress worn for the official engagement photo with William:

Her sister Pippa is also pretty good at stimulating sales based on clothes she wears. The Zara double-breasted blue blazer she wore after the wedding sold out immediately once pictures were published. Natch, Zara hails from Spain, not England.  Then again, Spain is on the verge of financial collapse, so a bit of help for La Madre Patria might be helpful. Pippa surely did her part by being photographed enjoying the best of Madrid last weekend with her ex-boyfriend. Expect tourism to the Spanish city to spike.  How awesome would it be if the Middleton girls turn out to be the economic linchpin for the EU!

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One response to “The Kate Factor: Can the Duchess Save UK Retail?

  1. Pingback: Why You Should Dress for Your Body Type: A Fashion Lesson in Pictures | Up My Ali

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