Britain's royal wedding to set cash tills ringing

Prince WIlliam's wedding and surrounding fanfare could result in a $1 billion boost for the UK's economy.

British businessmen are rubbing their hands with glee as they consider how to cash in on the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who have announced their long-awaited engagement.

Retail researchers at the consultancy Verdictspeculated that next year's wedding and its surrounding worldwide media fanfare could result in a US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) boost to the British economy.

Within hours of the announcement, the retail giant Asdahad launched a £5 (Dh29.18) mug featuring the happy couple safely ensconced within a glowing love heart.

"We're delighted that Prince William and Kate Middleton have finally announced their engagement and we all have a royal wedding to look forward to," said the budget retailer.

Meanwhile Neil Saunders, a consulting director with Verdict, told Reuters that revenues from travel and tourism could increase by £216 million, while merchandise sales could be worth up to £18m.

"If, as expected, it is a big set-piece event, it could well capture the nation's imagination and provide a fillip to the retail sector," said Mr Saunders.

Mark Irvine-Fortescue, an analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland, said retailers, in both the downmarket and luxury sectors, could expect gains as fans of the royal family timed their holidays to coincide with the wedding. "Overseas visits are going to see a big boost," he said.

Meanwhile, the event is expected to smash records for television viewer numbers.

Lawrence Grossman, of the TV prediction firm Oracle, told The Sun newspaper that audience numbers could reach 3 billion: "Half the world could see it," he said.

Some analysts took issue with that figure. "I reckon they pulled it out of nowhere," said Dominic Buch, a media analyst at Numis Securities, but he agreed that the event could bring a substantial boost to British media organisations.

"Any event that attracts a large audience is going to, for those who can, make money," Mr Buch said. "It's not just the three or four hours around it. It's just the interest around the whole thing - endless programs in the lead-up, and analysis after it.

"I should think the newspapers stand to benefit even more. For the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, this is great news. People want to read about this type of event."