April 29th, 2011
03:37 AM GMT
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(CNN) – It’s not for nothing economics is called “the dismal science,’ so leave it to an economist to rain on today’s royal wedding in London.

As tens of thousands of tourists flock to London and hundreds of millions more watch on television and online, the assumed wisdom is that the influx of tourist dollars and attention will be good for the struggling UK economy.

Indeed, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that the city of London will reap £107 million ($177 million) commercially from the influx of revelers. Retail researcher Verdict estimates the boost to the UK economy could approach $1 billion.

Estimates of actual costs of the wedding vary wildly (and the royal family is reportedly paying most of the costs privately) but the security costs are estimated to hit £20 million ($33.2 million), according to the Daily Mail.

But the real cost to the British economy could be a 0.1% hit to UK GDP this year – “if you want to monetize that … that comes something between £1.5 billion to £2 billion ($2.5 billion to $3.3 billion),” said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec.

Why? Loss of productivity thanks to the April 29 holiday.

Coming after the four-day British Easter holiday, about 6 million workers are estimated to be taking three extra vacation days to have an 11-day holiday – which will inevitably hit the service and manufacturing sectors, Shaw said.

“While that may be great for some people, it’s effectively a day the UK economy has off and is not producing,” Shaw told CNN. Investec based its projection on the economic impact of the Queen’s 50th Anniversary celebration ceremonies to the British economy in 2002.

While the boost to tourism “might be true in terms of some gross effects, but really the net impact is that GDP will drop somewhat,” Shaw said.

What about the feel-good factor?

“That’s highly subjective,” Shaw said. “A few street parties here and there – particularly if the weather’s nice – could engender some sort of feel-good factor, we could see a little temporary boost in spending, but that’s very unscientific and very difficult to measure.

“Past experience suggests when there is positive impact of that nature, it tends to be fairly short-lived, and then it’s a sharp return to fundamentals,” Shaw said.

And the UK fundamentals are under pressure, with lower household spending, the spectre of inflation and the government’s push for deep austerity measures to cut government debt.

A day off may be a hit to productivity, but with all the bad news in the UK of late – and the world at large – maybe a holiday spent watching a royal romance is worth the cost.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. no name

    why not this royal wedding on saturday/sunday ? by doing that there is no extra holiday and we can have slightly better economy

    April 29, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  2. Audrey

    Watching from Redlands, CA on sofa with 3 dogs. Was on the street across from Abbey during the funeral.....stone silence except for clippity clop of horses' hooves; entirely different, welcoming scene tonight!

    April 29, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  3. Dhikko

    its or sum.....beautiful dress and the couple was etc......and also Harry u look v nice......from my side for William and Kate always be together and be a lovely couple.....god will give u a happy life.....;]

    April 30, 2011 at 4:10 am |
  4. Jlo797

    Clearly Friday was chosen to offer a holiday to everyone which I think is more important overall than a tenth of a percent of impact on the economy.

    April 30, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  5. Mary-Lou

    This Royal Wedding will continue to bring in the money for years to come. Royalty watchers and those who love Britain will continue to buy wedding souvenirs and other knick-knacks while those who have more money to spend will actually travel there and stay for one to four weeks. And when the couple are blessed with children interest will be renewed and the money will continue to roll in. That's not a bad thing for either side.

    May 2, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  6. Kenneth

    It is just one day out of the other 365 days a year. Are the people expected to be working all the 365 days?

    May 3, 2011 at 3:18 am |
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