Kate and Wills effect produces cucumber spike

Hard-pressed Britain celebrates The Wedding with a £500m splurge on all things patriotic
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The Independent Online

Cucumbers, cake tins and Union flag napkins were flying off the shelves in the final days of the lead-up to the royal wedding last Friday.

The last-minute purchases were a welcome boost to retailers who have been suffering from shoppers holding back since Christmas.

Home cooking appeared to be the order of the day as companies reported customers planning sandwich-making and cake-baking as part of the festivities.

Waitrose saw cucumber sales rocket 50 per cent on the same time last year – the key ingredient in cucumber sandwiches.

Argos reported a 292 per cent rise in sales of cake tins and baking accessories as an excited nation prepared for street and dinner parties.

Jamie Wilby, kitchen buyer at Argos, said: "It seems it won't just be the guests at the royal wedding enjoying delicious cakes and confectionery, the British public have been pre-heating their ovens and putting on their aprons in preparation for the big day as well. Baking accessories such as cake stands and cookie cutters have been big sellers."

At John Lewis, sales of Emma Bridgewater-designed Union flag napkins jumped 246 per cent in the run up to the big day.

Copycat Kates deluged Marks & Spencer for its M&S "Royal Ring" which is now its best-selling ring ever, with sales last week increasing by more than 1,000 per cent, compared with its first week instore.

Replica designs of Kate's wedding dress – by Alexander McQueen designer Sarah Burton – are likely to be produced for this summer.

Last week John Lewis saw its hat sales grow 20 per cent on the previous week, 23 per cent up on last year, with shoppers planning to dress up for their celebration parties. Its most popular hat is made from banana leaves imported from the Philippines.

Online sales also went wedding crazy in the past week, with Amazon. co.uk selling 10,400 different kinds of wedding-related products, including a book on how to knit your own royal wedding.

A total of £500m in additional retail sales is predicted to be generated as a direct result of the wedding – with around 20 per cent of this spent on memorabilia and souvenirs, and a further 25 per cent on food and drink.

But shopkeepers are hoping that the nation continues spending over the extended weekend, and that royal-wedding-related sales are not just a temporary boost.

Further price hikes were predicted as four of the world's largest consumer goods companies said this week that they will be raising the price of essentials such as toothpaste and butter. This is bad news for consumers already hit by rising prices across clothing, food and petrol.

British Retail Consortium economist Richard Lim said: "With customers under pressure and retail sales falling dramatically, the wedding and the extra day off will give a useful boost to the national mood and to retail sales. But, while the feel-good effects are welcome, they will be temporary. The wedding won't fundamentally alter customers' longer-lasting concerns."

On the day of the wedding, Facebook and Twitter fans were busy posting thousands of comments. On Friday more than three million mentions of the royal wedding were recorded on Facebook.

In the wider financial market, trading was quieter than usual due to the number of non-working days. Daily volumes of trades were down at between 474,000 to 574,000 compared with a typical day this year of more than 600,000 trades.