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So ... did we make a profit then

Most weddings blow a hole in the happy couple's finances, but the royal extravaganza is predicted to have delivered a much needed boost to the UK's beleaguered economy.

The tourist authority VisitBritain predicts the wedding, a worldwide TV event, will trigger a tourism boom that will last several years, eventually pulling in an extra 4m visitors and some £2bn for the country's coffers.

In the short term, the accountancy firm PwC estimates the influx of wedding watchers delivered a £107m boost to London, as hotels, West End shops and restaurants picked up extra trade.

The Royal Wedding - sealed with a kiss

The British Retail Consortium forecast that shops and pubs will benefit by nearly £500m. With 5,500 street parties in full swing the biggest beneficiaries were the supermarkets, as people piled their tables with patriotic nosh such as sausage rolls, Coronation chicken and Victoria sponge. Sales of Wills and Kate merchandise, which ranged from mugs and tea towels to union flag contact lenses, were put at £26m.

Middleton's entry into the royal family has made her fashion's hottest property, rather like Michelle Obama, whose patronage delivered a $2.7bn boost to her favourite labels. High street chains Reiss and Whistles have already enjoyed the benefits, after the bride wore their clothes in her official engagement photos.

The nation's celebrations for the royal wedding and the long bank holiday weekend prompted a splurge in sales of picnic food, bunting, champagne, wine and barbecues.

Waitrose reported a 23% rise in sales in the week to last Saturday, compared with the week following Easter last year.

"The weather, the royal wedding and extra bank holiday combined mean that it's been a good weekend for food and DIY retailers," said Sarah Cordey of the British Retail Consortium. "There was a lot of promotional activity."

The unusually hot Easter weekend also provided a big boost, "not just in terms of people eating out but also new seasonal fashion," she added.

On the day before the wedding, Waitrose enjoyed its strongest sales on a Thursday outside the Christmas and new year period. This follows a record pre-Easter week, when sales climbed by 10.6% compared with the week before Easter last year.

"The celebratory mood that swept the nation drove another week of strong sales, with the mid-week days showing particularly impressive uplifts as people got ready for royal wedding parties and the long weekend," said Waitrose's managing director Mark Price.

"We've seen a wave of entertaining across the country, which would only be rivalled by the Christmas and new year period."

And while there is discussion on the cost of bank holidays to the economy and the tax payer, whether the returns in tourism and direct to retailers outweigh these remains to be seen, but we can be assured of a feast of analysis in the coming weeks.

The BRC releases its latest retail sales figures on the 10th May.

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