Skip to main content

UK Retailers Cash In on Coronation Merchandise

The spotlight on the British royal family will burn brighter in the coming days ahead of King Charles III’s coronation on May 6. 

However, royal celebrations can help retailers make a king’s ransom, especially those selling tasty treats. 

Kantar reported that sales during the week of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022 were 87 million pounds ($110 million) higher than on average in 2022. Specifically, alcohol sales were up by a third and purchases of ice cream increased by 35 percent over the week compared to the year average, according to the data agency.

“Despite the rising cost of living, the British public got into the jubilee spirit in characteristic fashion,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

The Diamond Jubilee in 2012 also saw a 10 percent boost in supermarket sales during the week leading up to the festivities, Kantar said. 

Tesco store in Portland, England. Finnbarr Webster/Getty

Britons will have many opportunities to nosh during King Charles III’s big day. The Coronation of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen Consort will play out across three days known as the Coronation Weekend. 

The official crowning will take place May 6 at Westminster Abbey in London. A televised concert at Windsor Castle is set for the next day featuring Lionel Ritchie and Katy Perry. That Sunday, the government is also encouraging communities around the U.K. to host block parties to celebrate the occasion, calling it the “Coronation Big Lunch.”  

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer released a coronation collection of products for the festivities, including British-themed baking sets, bunting, paper napkins and plates and insulated tote bags. The retailer is also offering a sizable apparel collection for men, women, children and babies, spanning 100 percent cotton Union Jack tees, sweatshirts and hooded fleece blankets to socks and pajama sets. Other Marks & Spencer collectibles include coronation dog toys, pillows, candles, cufflinks and bone china teapots and matching cup and saucer sets.   

Related Stories

“We have everything you need to mark the occasion in style, from extra-special food and fizz to commemorative gifts and fun homeware. So, gather your friends and family and make the most of this joyous coronation weekend,” the retailer states on its website.

Marks & Spencer

The government has also declared May 8 a bank holiday, meaning millions of people will have off from work that Monday. For the holiday, The Together Coalition and a range of partners such as The Scouts, the Royal Voluntary Service and faith groups from across the U.K. are organizing “The Big Help Out,” a day dedicated to community service as a “tribute to His Majesty The King’s public service.”

“The aim of The Big Help Out is to use volunteering to bring communities together and create a lasting volunteering legacy from the Coronation Weekend,” Buckingham Palace stated. 

Pubs stand a winning chance to benefit from the long weekend, however. The government has extended licensing hours for U.K. venues by an extra two hours between May 5-May 7. 

Retail strategies to cash in on the coronation of Charles III and Camilla will be lightyears different from Elizabeth II’s coronation seven decades ago. The U.K.’s $285.5 billion a year e-commerce business didn’t exist in 1953, let alone the internet or the mass-produced treats and tchotchkes that retailers peddle during modern royal celebrations. Though restrictions for eggs and sweets were lifted, products like sugar, butter and cheese were still subject to post-war rationing in the U.K. when the late queen took her oath to uphold the law and Church of England at Westminster Abbey.

The British baking company Biscuiteers launched a new collection of biscuits to commemorate the Coronation of King Charles III. Carl Court/Getty

However, the U.K. government has to walk a tight rope between honoring tradition by footing the bill for all the pomp and circumstance that go into a state occasion and showing sensitivity to the public worker strikes and country’s ongoing cost of living crisis. A YouGov survey this month of 4,246 Britons found that more than half think the coronation should not be funded by the government.  

“Unconfirmed predictions” have estimated that the coronation could cost between 50-100 million pounds ($63-$126 million), according to British outlet, I News. Operation Golden Orb, the name given to the planning committee, is promising a more scaled-down event compared to Elizabeth II’s coronation, which is estimated to have cost a total of 1.57 million pounds ($2 million), or the equivalent of 46 million pounds ($58 million) today.

Despite the cost consciousness, some retailers anticipate that consumers will want to live like royalty during the weekend.  

Liberty London has a $125 silk twill “Royal Fanfare” scarf. Last week, Barbour began promoting limited-edition wax jackets for men and women lined with the Union Jack flag.

Liberty London scarf

Fortum & Mason’s coronation collection designed by British artists offers a tea set for two ($617.18), a silk twill scarf ($171.44) and a commemorative two-handle mug ($308.59). Selfridges’ coronation shop offers items including a $19 fruit loaf cake by Cartwright & Butler and a collectible Wedgewood mug for $99.  

John Lewis is selling 3-packs of tea towels, a jigsaw puzzle and gin in a collector’s tin. Liberty London has a $125 silk twill “Royal Fanfare” scarf.

Back on this side of the pond, QVC is selling bags and wallets designed by Radley. The coronation collection spans $30 canvas totes with a corgi print to $318 leather totes with an illustration of Buckingham Palace.  

Despite King Charles’ life-long passion for the environment, few products tout sustainability. However, Harrods offers a 100 percent recycled polyester coronation tote for $24 and a recycled cotton tote for $44.