With an expected 10.8m people turning up to watch events at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it’s fair to say that the event, running from July 27 to September 9, will make the recent Royal Wedding seem like a ‘bit of a do’.
London and the other venues will be subject to unprecedented levels of disruption with new traffic flows and delivery restrictions, but according to analysts and official services provider for the Olympics, Deloitte, retailers do not seem to be concerned by the impact that the organising the Games will have on their business. It reports that 71% of retailers say they expect only very minor or insignificant disruption.
However, Deloitte points out that underestimating the impact of the Olympics both in terms of the logistics of running a business over the Games and demand for products is a mistake, and one made by ex-host cities such as Sydney, Beijing and Vancouver.
For those with businesses near Olympic venues, the Games will affect every area of their business, from organising deliveries to opening hours, staffing and even the range of products stocked.
A network of roads linking key venues and sites has been designated, deemed The Olympic Route Network and the Paralympic Route Network (ORN and PRN). These roads will be affected by temporary closures, which could affect a store’s deliveries, and parking restrictions could significantly reduce kerbside access. And with 20 million trips expected to be made on public transport, simply getting your staff to and from work may well be an issue.
Some events will cause more disruption than others. The cycle race and the Torch Relay in the run up to the Olympics will take in many more roads, potentially causing disruption all around the country.
In fact, it’s the retailers away from Olympic venues who may suffer most from apathy towards the great event and its run up. Far from being London-centric, London 2012 belies its name by sprawling into every corner of the British Isles, and there will be few retailers who won’t be feeling Olympic fever by the time the games themselves arrive. And to make the most of the opportunity, retailers need to start planning now.
According to Ian Brown, Adidas head of sales London 2012, the run up to the start of the Games is a fantastic opportunity for retailers to add sales. “London 2012 will be a unique experience for our nation, and the forecast is that sales of licensed merchandise will reach up to £1bn. It’s appropriate that c-stores get their fair share of this.”
Kraft trade communications manager Susan Nash agrees: “It’s the biggest event in our lifetime and many retailers don’t understand why it’s important to get involved this year and are waiting until next year to do anything. But there have been predictions of £1bn-£4bn retail sales to be made between September and December 2011.”
Nash estimates that by this time next year there will be 10,000 types of consumer products dedicated to the Olympics. P&G sports marketing & Olympics project director Nathan Homer says that the recent debate over tickets demonstrates a clear public interest: “Retailers can start using this excitement now to build sales.”
Olympic fever is definitely under way among manufacturers licensed by The London Organising Committee of the Olympics and Paralympics Games to carry the official logo on merchandise. Innzone is one such company and has the licence for the Royal Mint London 2012 sports collection which, says managing director Phillip Glyn, will be a big winner in retail sales.
“Royal Mint has estimated it’s going to sell 10 million coins by the end of the Olympics and has already sold one million, so we’re going to see a huge upsurge,” Glyn says.
He believes that the convenience market is key to sales. The coins are currently stocked in 2,500 independents and distributed through wholesalers Menzies Distribution and Smiths News, however the company is also in talks with cash and carries including Parfetts.
Says Glyn: “The key element of consumer sales is collectability so we want to drive customers back in stores.” He says that retailers should be looking out for two types of customers those looking to buy the coin collection in one go, with an album and usually for a gift, and those buying a coin a week. They’d need six months at that rate to complete the collection, he says, so it’s important to get in early to maximise revenue. “The earlier you stock it the earlier you will start to make sales,” he says.
Products bought directly through Innzone have a buy-back guarantee on any unsold stock until October 2012: “It represents a risk-free opportunity to enter into areas retailers wouldn’t usually go into,” Glyn explains.
The great thing about an event such as the Olympics is that it provides an opportunity for retailers to branch out a little. Sportswear company Adidas is actively courting the c-store sector and is targeting the convenience sector with products which carry only the London 2012 logo. Ian Brown says that he’s been extremely optimistic about the response from the convenience channel, which represents a new step for the company. “I spent nine years in the FMCG world and so I understand the quality of these retailers. We recently attended the Nisa show and the response from members was nothing short of excellent. That gives me confidence that we’re producing an offer that works in convenience.” He says he expects that store owners will be able to purchase a ‘Retailer Pack’ of relevant merchandise that suits their shop format.
Retailers around the country are getting on track for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Over the coming year we’ll be following developments with four retailers who have events taking place near their stores, as they prepare for the impact on their shops as the excitement builds, and during the Games themselves
Silvertown Spar, near London’s ExCel Centre, East London
Raj is in the privileged position of having a store just metres away from the ExCel Centre, which will host seven events, including boxing, wrestling and judo, in addition to six Paralympic events.
He opened the store in 2008 in a new development and has seen the benefit of regeneration in the area ahead of the Games. “Business is picking up all the time as the regeneration continues,” he says. “We didn’t know at the time of opening that the ExCel Centre would be an Olympic venue, so that’s a real bonus for us.”
Unsurprisingly, he is optimistic about the impact of the Games. “Coaches will drop off spectators just down the road so they will walk past us, and we’ll be right next to the new Cable Car, which will transport pedestrians and cyclists across the Thames. This will leave a legacy, too, guaranteeing higher footfall moving forward. We will also benefit from the build up to the Games, as there’ll be other competitions to test out the venue, as well as pre-Olympic trials.”
He is planning ahead to make the most of the extra trade through extending his food to go to include fast-cook pizzas, and wants to extend opening hours temporarily.
Londis, Weymouth, Dorset
Londis retailer Steve Bassett has three stores in and around the South coastal town of Weymouth, which will serve as the location for most of the 2012 Olympic sailing events. The events are guaranteed to see a tide of tourists and enthusiasts wash into the town, providing buoyant trading conditions.
It will be a welcome occurrence, says Steve, for whom the past few months have been challenging. “Preparations commenced more than a year ago and involved most of the town centre roads being re-surfaced and new lights and roundabouts installed in order to ease traffic flow during the Games.
“I know that when it’s all finished it will be great, but for now the appalling traffic that the work is creating is a real nightmare for me and my suppliers,” he says. However, jams aside, the early arrival of a few teams for training purposes in the past few weeks means that excitement for the main event is starting to build.
“I can’t wait for it all to kick off,” says Steve. “I’m expecting it to be manic. Lots of my friends are asking me if I’ll be watching the sailing, and I keep saying I hope not! I hope I’ll be far too busy humping stock around and serving long queues at the till!”
Spar Walthamstow, London
Spar Walthamstow is just two Tube stops away from the Olympic Park in Stratford, which will be a hive of sporting activity come 2012. The Park houses the Olympic Stadium where the athletics will take place, as well as the aquatics centre, basketball arena, BMX track, handball arena, hockey centre, velodrome and water polo arena.
“The council said it would pump lots of money into Walthamstow because of the Olympics,” says James. “Although it hasn’t invested as much as we’d hoped, it has renovated some of the buildings in the area, which is good.”
He is expecting footfall to increase dramatically over the course of the Olympics, largely due to an increase in people staying in the area to watch the games. “Local people will have family staying with them over the Olympics because Stratford is so close by. Hopefully, they’ll come to the store while they’re here.”
In addition, James was hoping to have a B&B above the store up and running for Olympic visitors, but unfortunately it won’t be ready on time. However, there are plans for a large Travelodge to open beside Walthamstow station. “Anything that brings people into the area is good for business,” says James.
Hampton Court Superstore, London
Hampton Court Superstore co-owner Virinder Pathak is hoping for speedily inflated sales in the summer of 2012 when two key Olympic cycling events whizz past his door.
The well-stocked store, which also features a café, is located just a stone’s throw away from the route for both the men’s and women’s road cycling race taking place on July 28 and 29, and the road cycling time trial race taking place on August 1.
The Olympic road cycling time trial race will be set against the clock and will see athletes powering through Elmbridge and past Virinder’s store on day five of the Olympic Games in August 2012, and the time trial route actually begins and ends in Hampton Court, a fact which is likely to attract throngs of eager spectators and cycling enthusiasts.
“We’ve been here for 20 years and although we are in a tourist area, we have never experienced anything like the excitement that the Olympics will bring,” says Virinder. “I am planning to introduce lots of new chest freezers as I am expecting ice cream sales for spectators to be huge. I’ll probably have a whole separate one just for Häagen- Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s.”