When England lose, so do the supermarkets -World Cup 2014

England’s dismal performance in this year’s World Cup came as a bit of a shock – the Three Lions have not done quite so badly for half a century. Despite predictions of at least making it to the last 16, the England team left the tournament without a single victory – that’s the first time we’ve failed to make the knock-out rounds since 1958.

But although the outcome on the pitch may have been hard to predict, the impact on England’s supermarkets came as no real surprise.


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Before the tournament began, market experts and analysts were confident in their predictions: the better our performance in the World Cup, the better our shops will fare too. One report went so far as to put a number on that prediction, claiming that every England goal was worth £200 million to the retail industry, with people buying up beer, barbecue food and sporting equipment.

And, before the disappointing Uruguayan match, the numbers were looking extremely good. Across the country, the ‘World Cup effect’ meant that retail spending was rising faster than at any other time in the last ten years. For example, the Office for National Statistics reported a 30% year on year increase in sports shops sales.

In a similar vein, John Lewis reported a hike in TV sales as footie fans decided now was the right time to invest in those extra inches and pixels. Meanwhile, Wait rose saw beer, barbecue meat and salad sales jump from 30 to 50% – a huge leap compared to this time last year.

The results are in…

With the numbers looking so good, the English economy was on track for a bumper season. But, unfortunately, the flip side of those positive predictions became fact after the team crashed out at the group stage – much earlier than expected.

The result? Tim Eales, director of strategic insight at IRI, didn’t beat around the bush: “Sales would have definitely been higher if England had stayed in the competition a bit longer.” According to complex sales data analysis by IRI, this early exit from the World Cup led to an enormous £55m bill in lost food and drink sales.

Not everyone agrees with this insight. A Morrison’s spokesperson argued that sunshine and showers have more impact on consumer spending than wins, draws and losses: “Fans will continue to watch the World Cup and we expect sales to be more affected by the weather rather than England not making it through.”

Either way, it’s fair to say that supermarkets aren’t the only losers. Around the country, thousands of pubs are mourning the absence of the football crowd. Notorious for their pint-swilling, this is a group who certainly knows how to prop up the bar. On top of this, any investments made in preparation for the hoards of hopeful fans – from big screens to decorations – will take months (or even years) instead of weeks to pay off.

Tit for tat

As you’re probably aware, supermarkets put a lot of time, effort and money into figuring out what food, drink and other goods they should choose to stock, and in what amounts. All sorts of conditions affect this process, from the weather forecast to royal babies! And the cost of a miscalculation can be huge – imagine the potential loss of revenue if a shop was to understock on strawberries before the Wimbledon final.

So, it makes sense that with an event like the World Cup to plan and prepare for, supermarkets will have spent millions to make sure their shelves were overflowing with the decorations, clothing, memorabilia and branded sports kit for the millions of footie fans eager to show their support.

Unfortunately, the poor performance of the England squad means much of that investment will go to waste. Retail analyst Bryan Roberts feared the worst: “[England’s defeat] will have a discernible impact on shopping behaviour and there will have to be a lot of clearance activity on football tat.” The Mirror reports that World Cup mugs that had been selling for £3.29 in Sainsbury’s dropped to just £1.19 once the chance of success disappeared.

And it’s probably too much to hope for that those countless flags, hats, mugs, teddies and other souvenirs don’t all make their way to landfill after a week or two in the bargain bin.

Better luck next time?

Fortunately for supermarkets, unlike the English squad they don’t have to wait four years to make up their losses.

Neeru Pallen

Neeru works as a marketing consultant for Print Express. She enjoys working along side her talented team and keeping up with business trends.

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