World Cup is a game of two halves for the economy

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The Independent Online

The England team's fortunes may be looking brighter following late goals against Trinidad & Tobago, but the economy is facing a more mixed tournament when it comes to World Cup-related profits and losses.

Supermarkets, pubs, bookmakers and advertisers are all basking in the sunshine as the sales boom from the tournament.

However travel agents, mortgage brokers, cinemas and the high-street giant Woolworths are facing a gloomy June.

Holiday companies such as First Choice and My Travel have both reported a downturn in people booking trips abroad during the duration of the tournament. My Travel had already cut the number of charter holidays it was offering this summer by 1.3 per cent, but bookings are still 2.6 per cent behind last year.

A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents said: "People want to sit in front of their televisions and watch the games, and the fact it is a long tournament adds to that effect."

Estate agents and mortgage brokers are also sweating from the combined effects of the sunny weather and lack of sales. Research by Yorkshire Bank has found that in the first-time buyer age group - 25 to 34 - one in 10 people has sidelined plans to look for a house until after the final. Gary Lumby, head of retail at the bank, said: "Men in particular appear to be more concerned with how many goals Owen will score than how many bedrooms a new semi-detached will have."

World Cup fans who have their property on the market may not be doing their chances much good either, according to the website Propertyfinder. Draping a national flag on the front of a home is as big a turn-off as a broken car in the garden.

Cinema ticket sales have been damaged by the timing of England's games. Mike Vickers, managing director of Reeltime Cinemas, said: "We have been hit very hard. The combination of the hot weather and the World Cup means that sales have gone right down. When England played Paraguay last Saturday we closed the cinemas for the afternoon because we knew there would be no demand."

Woolworths said that sales were down 50 per cent in its stores last Saturday because people were staying at home.

It is not all gloom for the economy, however. The British Beer and Pub Association says that an extra 9 million pints were pulled and 6 million people watched Thursday evening's game in pubs. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) estimated that, for every week that England remain in the tournament, an extra £124m will be spent in pubs.

A spokesman for the BRC said: "It can be a bit of a mixed bag and some retailers lose out, but on the whole the World Cup is a good thing for the economy."

Football's winners and losers


* Electronic goods manufacturers: John Lewis has been selling a plasma TV screen every 40 seconds and sales of all electronic goods are up 19 per cent on last month.

* Supermarkets: Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury's are all reporting huge rises in sales of beer, wine and barbecue food; Britons will eat an extra 218 billion calories during the World Cup.

* Pubs: Each England game adds an extra £30m to pub profits and the timing of the national team's games have been particularly beneficial to publicans.

* Advertising: An extra £300m will be spent on advertising during the tournament.

* ITV: Gained a massive 76 per cent of the audience share during Thursday night's game with 17 million people watching the coverage.


* Travel agents: My Travel and First Choice have both reported a downturn in business at a traditionally busy time and are hoping that the end of the tournament will coincide with a break in the hot weather that will drive people abroad.

* Weekend shopping trade: Woolworths said that trading last Saturday was down 50 per cent because so many people were watching the England game, and overall sales in the High Street fell by 10 per cent.

* Estate agents: One in 10 people aged 25 to 34 who have been looking to buy have shelved their plans until after the World Cup, according to the Yorkshire Bank.

* Cinemas: Some cinemas are closing their doors during England matches because so few people are buying tickets, even for big draws such as X-Men.

* Mascot makers: The Bavarian company that makes the official Fifa World Cup mascot has filed for bankruptcy following poor sales of the little lion, as most countries seem more interested in buying nationalistic items.