By Dr Sarah Montano
Department of Marketing
Today marks the Coronation of King Charles III, and for many in the UK, this will be the first coronation that they have seen or can remember. Many of us will recall being shown mugs and tea towels by our grandparents that depict the Coronation of the late Queen Elizabeth II. So, with an extra bank holiday to look forward to and merchandise a plenty in-store to celebrate the Coronation, what are retailers hoping for and what might you buy this week to show your future grandchildren?
With the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, retail and hospitality has faced difficulties over the last few years, to the extent that many of our much-loved retailers have gone out of business. With street parties planned, memorabilia and special Coronation-themed food to buy, retailers are hoping for a very successful weekend. John Lewis has reported that sales are up as customers seek to stock up on Coronation merchandise and decorations. With three bank holidays, May is being termed “Mega May” as it is bringing great opportunities to boost retail sales. The Centre for Retail Research is predicting that Coronation festivities and an influx of tourists will lead to sales of £1.4 billion.
Street parties, food and an (edible) Jack Russell
With the Coronation Big Lunch on Sunday 7th May where neighbours and communities are invited to get together and share food, retailers are competing to offer exciting Coronation specials and limited editions to share.
Of note many retailers are offering a variety of chocolate character cakes to share, Waitrose have a Jack Russell, M&S a special Coronation Colin the Caterpillar (complete with an edible gold crown), and Sainsbury’s have a King Wiggle cake. Retailers are advertising a range of foods perfect for a street party or family gathering. Lidl are offering a ‘High Tea Fit for a King’, Aldi a ‘Coronation Celebration’, and M&S a ‘Right Royal Treat’.
From cupcakes to bunting and coronation chicken to quiche, there is something for everyone to enjoy while they celebrate. And if you would prefer to go out for food, then Tesco have even created a full Coronation-themed pub with profits going to the Prince’s Trust.
Many people might be looking to buy memorabilia to remember the Coronation and the opportunity to sell memorabilia is giving a boost to many retailers, with people expected to spend approximately £250 million on memorabilia alone.
There is a very wide range on offer from a teddy bear at John Lewis, coins from the Royal Mint, cushions at M&S, and even Aldi’s Special Buy Kevin (the carrot), King of Veg, as with food, there is something for everyone. Whilst the nature of memorabilia may seem frivolous this has been an opportunity for manufactures and retailers to boost their sales after a difficult period. In particular, the Coronation has given a boost to factories with high demand for mugs, bunting and biscuits. The founder of the pottery brand Emma Bridgewater notes that royal events are always a great boost for sales, and they have already sold approximately £1 million worth of Coronation memorabilia already. Importantly, such a boost in sales also means a boost in local jobs and opportunities.
In conclusion, with Mega May and the additional Bank Holiday, many will be looking forward to get-togethers with family and friends. This weekend is likely to see a significant rise in retail sales and maybe in 20 years’ time you will look fondly back at your Coronation mug!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Birmingham.