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The Friday Five: reasons Olympomania will be great for Britain

Ahead of the long-awaited Olympic opening ceremony tonight we look at how London 2012 will benefit Britain.


by Victoria Bischoff on Jul 27, 2012 at 14:08

The Friday Five: reasons Olympomania will be great for Britain

The excitement over the Olympics is growing so fast that the 'geiger counter of Olympomania' is about to go 'zoik off the scale', according to London mayor Boris Johnson.

Here's why this is a good thing...

1. The economy

Economists have been debating the impact of Olympics on the UK’s economy since we won the bid back in 2005, but most agree it will have a positive effect – if only modest and temporary.

Economist Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, said he expects the Olympics to lift GDP by around 0.3% in the third quarter thanks to ticket sales and the boost the Games will bring to retail sales, employment, tourism and consumer confidence. This will at least reverse some of the damage caused by the shock 0.7% drop seen in the second quarter of the year.

However, once the Games are over Archer warned that the problems facing the UK economy will still be there and the growth rate will therefore not be sustained. He added that the Olympics could also hit productivity levels as people work from home to avoid London during the Games and watch the events on TV when they should be working!

2. Tourism

The government is spending some £3 million of the Olympic budget on tourism-boosting methods to get more visitors into the country, not just during the Games but in the years to follow.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said he wanted ‘’Cultural Olympiad’ events like the torch relay to ‘showcase the whole nation’, but it’s London that Britain’s top tourism bods are relying on to bring in the big bucks.

Big attractions, like the London Eye and the Dungeons, are going to make a killing over the next couple of weeks. And then there are the new attractions built especially for the Olympics which will no doubt prove popular with visitors – such as the Olympic cable car costing £4.30 a go or £3.20 with an Oyster card and the Orbit Tower at the Olympic site in Stratford at £25 a pop, for example.  

In fact, according to Visa, spending by international visitors in the UK on Visa cards increased 5.1% in the week before the Olympics. Tourist attractions and exhibitions boasted a 13.2% rise in spending compared to last year, while theatres reported a 53% increase.

Economists worry, however, that much of boost achieved by tourists will be undone by people going away from the UK to avoid the Games. Others will postpone visits, Archer said, while many Londoners may be scared away by all the travel warnings and hide at home.

3. Pubs and restaurants

There is nothing like a bit of sun and an international sporting event to drive hoards of Britons into the arms of their nearest pub. In fact, many of us don’t even really need the sunshine – which is fortunate given the weather forecast

According to Archer, pubs, restaurants and hotels near all the Olympic venues should see a significant boost in the coming weeks, while supermarkets should also do well as people are likely to buy extra food and drink to enjoy while watching the Games.

However, the British Beer and Pub Association reported earlier this month that beer sales were down over 5%, largely as a result of poor weather, so let’s hope the weather improves again soon. Reports in the FT, meanwhile, suggest that some companies believe that any boost will be too localised to impact performance nationally.

4. Retail

There should be a real boost to retail sales through sales of Olympic souvenirs and merchandise, according to Archer. He also pointed out that a significant number of people may upgrade their televisions to enjoy the Olympics in all its glory.

Voucher website, meanwhile, claims that it has seen a  67% decrease in the number of voucher and discount codes issued by UK high street and internet retailers as retailers look to cash in on the expected surge in sales. The government has also suspended Sunday trading laws – which usually prevent shops from opening for longer than six hours between the hours of 10am and 6pm on a Sunday – in England and Wales for the duration of the Games.

Some luxury brands, such as Mulberry, however, are concerned that the crowds of sports fans will deter the international shopper.

Then there is also the issue of the super-strict Olympic branding rules, which are preventing non-official sponsors of the Games from using the event to attract customers. Shops can't use the word 'Olympics' or the logos such as the rings. By now everyone has probably heard about the 81-year-old lady who was banned from selling second-hand dolls in charity shops which she'd knitted some Olympic themed clothing for... sad times.

(Any shops looking for tips on how to get around the branding rules meanwhile should maybe check out the picture which was posted on Shortlist's Facebook page below.)

5. Morale

It's been quite a year for us Brits – the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012, Murray becoming the first Brit to make it into a Wimbledon final in 74 years... and now we have the Olympics!

It's a good job too given the sorry state of our economy – anything that gives Britons something to cheer about can only be a good thing.

And I must say, having just chased the Olympic Torch down the river as it drifted past our offices in Vauxhall, there is a great atmosphere brewing in the capital ahead of the opening ceremony tonight. And if you're not into sports at least you've got something different to moan about ey?

Let's just hope we Londoners can find it within our busy, important selves to refrain from screaming at confused tourists stumbling up and down tube escalators to STAND ON THE RIGHT.

9 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Jon Danzig

Jul 27, 2012 at 14:40

The question is this: does the coalition government have the ideas, the imagination and the strategy to make Great Britain a Great Economy again? It's a question I put to government member, Jo Johnson, brother of London Mayor Boris. Much to my disappointment, he answered that Britain will never be a number one economy again. In fact, as a country he said we are just going to get poorer and poorer relative to other countries. Does it mean austerity isn't just temporary, it's permanent? To see the YouTube video of my question and Jo Johnson’s reply, go to my channel at, or direct to the video: (55 seconds)

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Vague Shot

Jul 27, 2012 at 16:14

What is strange though, is that some of the buses are very empty, where I am in Hackney/Islington. Peraps, a lot of peole have gone away or are working from home.

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M Artian

Jul 27, 2012 at 17:38

Here on Mars we only get e-copies of the Daily Torygraph, so perhaps our views are a little prejudiced?

We Martians believe that 'economics' is a branch of Social Studies, and all utterances made by economists are pure guesswork. For the record our economists believe that the GDP will fall by at least 50% because of the Coca Cola/ MacDonald Olympics (CCMDO). Many earthlings don't like either product.

Here on Mars, pubs are closing every day. Our economists believe that the CCMDO will make things worse as earthlings will buy their booze from ALDI and drink it at home in front of TV sets.

We note that it hasn't been a good time on earth, what with crooked bankers, journalists, MPs and Lords. We can't see how a load of burgers and fizzy drinks can make much difference.

Boris said much the same when he was last with us.

We miss his contributions to 'Have I Got News For You'

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Alan Tonks

Jul 27, 2012 at 19:31

I will give just one, illegal immigrants by the bus load.

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Ian Phillips

Jul 27, 2012 at 21:59

Shouldn't the actual cost of the Olympics be off-set against the alleged profits??

What?!....nobody thought of that?....well there's a surprise!


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M Artian

Jul 27, 2012 at 22:22

Here on Mars I think we have a simpler system.

When we need massive amounts of money to pay for silly things such as the CCMDO, we just print it out. That way the books always balance, and in addition our Martian bankers always get their bonuses (we add a percent leverage).

Whoops, just read the e-Torygraph ... you earthlings have been doing this for years.

Silly me.

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Jul 28, 2012 at 20:02

Back in 1951 we were mesmerised by a tower building called the "Skylon" it was part of "The Festival of Britain" and was designed as a vision of the future.

Some years later it was thought to be an eyesore and was torn down.

The Olympic park equivalent is a sort of grid iron contraption which I can only surmise was designed by Heath-Robinson. It is called the "Orbit" and was sponsored by Arcelor-Mittal.

Usually I'm fairly non-judgemental when it comes to architecture but surely this nightmare is totally bonkers.

The other buildings in the Park are quite pleasing to look at, especially the equatic centre. Personally I think the "Skylon" would have looked much better along side them.

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Jon Danzig

Jul 28, 2012 at 20:25

At a debate about the future of the UK, I asked government member, Jo Johnson, MP, brother of London Mayor Boris, if Britain could be a number one economy again. He said no. In fact, as a country he said Britain is just going to get poorer and poorer relative to other countries. And the reason? He said it's because the UK only has a population of around 60 million.

This doesn't make sense to me, as Australia only has a population of around 23 million, and yet the IMF recently predicted that Australia would be the best performing major advanced economy in the world over the next two years. Why not the UK?

To see the YouTube video of my question and Mr Johnson's reply go to: (55 seconds)

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Vague Shot

Jul 28, 2012 at 20:57

The Skylon was really only a mast, as you couldn't ascend it, and I believe the design has been used since. As to the Orbit, only time will tell if it is liked and stays. it'll probably depend on how profitable the restaurant is, but then high restaurants in the UK, always seem to fail. Look at the one on the BT Tower. When did that one close?

The only one of these projects around the Olympics, that will survive is the cable-car, as it serves a transport purpose. Also at £3.20 on an Oyster card, which gives you speedy boarding, it's an affordable way to get high. I think people won't pay £25 to go up the Shard.

To me one of the attractions about getting high, is doing it at different times of day. I've ridden the cable-car at sunset and the views over the city at that time are superb. After all the cable-car only costs the same as a large coffee.

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