Who would have thought that the birth of a baby would be enough to perk up a national economy? Across the United Kingdom, the anticipated arrival of the heir to the British throne this month is sending retailers into a swoon.
According to The Christian Science Monitor, retail sales will be boosted in July and August by as much as $376 million as shoppers snap up items commemorating the birth of the first-born child of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.
When in 2011 the prince married Kate Middleton -- now the Duchess of Cambridge -- the royal family scored a public relations coup that hasn't waned in the last two years. The Internet has fueled worldwide interest in the couple and their impending parenthood.
Joshua Barnfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, told The Christian Science Monitor that the birth of this heir eclipses that of Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry, 30 years ago. He estimates retail sales will be three to four times higher for the latest arrival to the royal family.
"We do a lot of research into consumer behavior and there is an increasing tendency to celebrate things these days," he said. "If someone had a party to mark a royal baby's birth in the '70s or '80s, people would say, 'Er, why are you doing that?'"
Items celebrating the birth include pacifiers marked with the royal coat of arms and bibs that read: "I love my Uncle Harry." But beyond the typical infant-related items, companies are cashing in any way they can. Expectant mothers can be made to feel like a princess for a day with baby showers offered by hotels and restaurants designed to make them feel like a duchess. A cosmetics company has launched a line of nail polish called "Pitter Patter."
In addition to an economic boost, following the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London, the birth of the heir is also expected to bring another spike in tourism. "The economy is already improving," Barnfield said. "The birth will be another uptick in the right direction."
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