Kate Middleton is still weeks from her due date, but already her baby's a financial whiz kid. Consumer analysts are expecting a $380 million injection into the arm of the UK economy, thanks to the newborn.
Already the pitter patter of little feet has prompted a stampede of memorabilia merchandise. Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, tells Reuters he expects the collectors to fork over an estimated 165 million pounds—that's over $240 million— for royal baby-themed china, and other collectibles marking the future monarch's arrival.
The Palace itself has capitalized on the memorabilia mania, with the Royal Collection Trust selling baby gear (the baby sleep-suit modeled on a royal guardsman outfit is already a big hit.) All proceeds from sales through the Royal Collection Trust are used for palace upkeep. In addition, the grandparents-to-be are getting in on the act. Prince Charles plans to sell handmade baby shoes through the gift shop at Highgrove, his country estate, and Carole and Michael Middleton have plans to include a selection of souvenirs to celebrate the Royal Birth through their company, Party Pieces.
Meanwhile, other retailers are grappling with the obvious dilemma: Should they make gear in pink or blue? British designer Sophie Allport created two potential designs for a commemorative mug to celebrate the royal birth—but will wait until the actual event to send one into production. Others, like UK designer Milly Green have decided to go gender-neutral and use the colors of the Union Jack for their Royal Baby themed products, such as this commemorative place setting.
It's not just the stuff that's expected to fuel economic growth.The hospitality and tourism industries could see a spike in the weeks surrounding the royal birth. In 2011, Kate and William's wedding yielded an estimated $2.6 billion in tourism, according to Forbes.
"I think the biggest commercial opportunity is going to be with tourists," market researcher Richard Cope told Reuters. Events and celebrations surrounding the birth could have an impact, as well. Think of all those toasts to the newborn en masse. Revelers in London alone could spend tens of millions to mark the occasion, claims an analyst who spoke to Reuters.
And that's just the beginning. Kate Middleton's maternity fashions proved as reliably beneficial for the retail industry as her pre-pregnancy days. Even the Hobbs Dalmation coat she wore last week sold out online within minutes.
It's likely the royal baby will take after mom when it comes to consumer influence. Retailers are also keeping a close eye on how Kate Middleton plans to stock her nursery. “When news broke that Kate Middleton purchased a Bugaboo Cameleon3, I saw an immediate spike in sales of that stroller,” claims Vanessa Anotelli, owner of NessaLeeBaby.com, an online baby and children’s clothing and furniture company. Like mom, like baby.