One year to go this Tuesday, and how we need 2012’s Olympics.
The phone-hacking scandal is a ghoulish diversion but as economists fear for the Euro, sterling, which has fallen 30% in the past four years, is looking weaker still and we know what that means for inflation.
After a spate of receiverships and profit warnings, Citi was commenting this week that “scary numbers abound” as reports from Kantar, Nielsen, Which? and Asda’s Income Tracker lined up in blackened unison.
So, yes. We need the Olympics because a summer without a big sporting event is bad for business, particularly as we obsess over like-for-likes; and the Olympics is always an inspiration; but above all because the tourists will bring welcome money into the economy: a £5.1bn windfall, according to Visa.
If the boost is to last more than the 19 days of the Olympics, however, we must make a good impression and that applies, above all, to our food. As I’ve said before, it really irritates me how ignorant foreigners are of the progress this country has made in terms of food. Inevitably a lot of attention will focus on the appropriateness of sponsors such as McDonald’s and Cadbury; but in our Olympics Special, it’s clear that LOCOG’s head of catering has gone to enormous lengths to make sure we put our best foot forward.
If I have a concern it is over the cautiousness of retailers. Many were cynical about the effects of the Royal Wedding. And how wrong they were. Yet few seem convinced about the Olympics beyond the usual deals on beer and crisps. Why? One possible reason is the restrictions imposed by the Olympics body. But Britain, and specifically British Food, is the perfect workaround. British Food Fortnight has even been moved, for 2012 only, from its traditional Harvest Supper date to coincide with the Games.
The industry needs to act now, to get behind Britain, British Food and British Food Fortnight.