UK businesses mourn the Queen as souvenir sales soar

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Souvenirs featuring images of Queen Elizabeth II are pictured in a shop, near Windsor Castle, west London, September 9, 2022, a day after the Queen died aged 96. — AFP peak

Saturday 10 September 2022 08:16 GMT

LONDON, Sept. 10 – British businesses paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, with department stores closed, flags lowered, clocks stopped and meetings postponed, but souvenir sales soared near Buckingham Palace as sympathizers thronged.

London’s iconic Selfridges, on the capital’s Oxford Street shopping thoroughfare, and nearby Liberty on Regent Street have closed out of respect for the country’s longest-serving monarch, who died on Thursday.

Many corporate headquarters lowered flags, while the Bank of England postponed an interest rate meeting until after the funeral.

Fortnum and Mason, the royal family’s tea purveyor, has been closed and even stopped the clock on the front of its luxury department store in London’s Piccadilly area.

“We are proud to have held a warrant from Her Majesty since 1954 and to have served her and the Royal Household throughout her life,” F&M said on its website.

“As a mark of our deepest respect, we lowered our flag at half mast and stopped the clock on the Piccadilly frontage.”

Elsewhere, remembrance affairs were in full swing closer to the palace, as well-wishers gathered to pay their respects to the royal family – and hoped to catch a glimpse of King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla.

“Everybody wants a souvenir”

“Everyone wants a queen’s souvenir,” store manager Nassir Abdel told AFP at Buckingham Gate, a stone’s throw from the main royal residence.

Abdel, who kept his shop open overnight due to high demand, said he had placed an order for souvenirs featuring King Charles III – but they will take a few weeks to arrive.

Customer Janet Saxton, a 73-year-old pensioner from Yorkshire, northern England, browsed the shop’s keyrings, mugs and other trinkets bearing the likeness of the late monarch before heading to the doors of the palace.

On Oxford Street, souvenir seller Nazz said business was booming.

“In the next few days we will be selling” even more items depicting the Queen while we wait for merchandise from Charles, he told AFP.

“object of fascination”

Global coverage of the Queen’s death is expected to boost Britain’s economy to some degree as it seeks to stave off the recession caused by decades-high inflation.

His funeral scheduled for September 19 “should have an impact on the tourism sector and the souvenir industry”, according to Mirabaud analyst John Plassard.

“The royal family, which regularly makes the headlines, is an object of constant fascination, including far beyond the borders of the kingdom.

“Souvenir sales are expected to increase by £60m (RM313m) following the funeral,” he added.

Most shops remained open on Oxford Street, including the John Lewis department store, where accountant Jo-Anne Allen was looking for a coat.

Britain’s economy “must be maintained, now is not the time to shut down the country”, she said.

“I don’t think she would have wanted more disruption in the country after her death, after Covid and the cost of living crisis.”

Tony Danker, head of UK lobby group CBI, echoed that sentiment.

“Times are tough right now – made worse by the loss of our beloved Queen – and our tribute should be to work tirelessly to build a better future for the people of this country in memory of Her Majesty.” —AFP

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