A personal high point of 2012 was inexplicably becoming regarded as a go-to expert on the Kardashians.

A personal high point of 2012 was inexplicably becoming regarded as a go-to expert on the Kardashians.

This honour culminated in several TV interviews outside an Oxford Street branch of Dorothy Perkins, with me incoherently babbling about gladiator shoes, leopard-skin jeggings and boyfriend jeans (plus whatever other gibberish I’d managed to recall from leafing through Sunday fashion supplements), while somehow keeping a straight face.

A similar phenomenon has occurred in 2013 - the royal birth and its possible impact on the retail sector is now my specialist subject of ignorance.

Hopefully, by the time this is published, the infant will have been born healthy and will be enjoying its first taste of the joys of the paparazzi.

But I’m less convinced that the retail sector will be sitting back and counting up much cash as a result.

It’s clear that British shoppers are becoming more than slightly jaded by the constant stream of ‘event’ juggernauts that are seeking to part them from their money.

Aside from the relentless procession of seasonal blitzkriegs that segue into each other to ensure the year has become 365 days of ‘seasonal event’, we are now being told that everything from a tennis match to regal
procreation merits marketing, merchandising, limited-edition products and a clutching-at-straws bandwagon.

Clearly the Olympics was genuinely an event and justifiably merited spend-up from shoppers. That said, I’ve this month seen a massive pile of Team GB mugs in a major supermarket. And it’s noteworthy that the sad demise of ModelZone was not helped by what appeared to be a significant over-ordering of Hornby Olympic train sets and Scalextric velodromes.

Even for actual, proper events, it appears that there is a discernible ceiling on the amount that we are willing to spend to commemorate them.

I do not recall there ever having been a commercial aspect to royal births in the past and I’d be amazed if there was this time around.

Apart from Krispy Kreme’s bite-and-reveal pink or blue-centred doughnuts (which were kind of fun), other attempts at driving sales through royal offspring affiliation have come across as opportunistic at best and cynical at worst. The ‘event’ may be running out of steam.

  • Bryan Roberts Director of retail insights, Kantar Retail