Euro football boost for business

AS the England team gears up for tonight's Euro 2004 quarter-final clash, East Anglia is reaping the economic rewards from the national team's success.

AS the England team gears up for tonight's Euro 2004 quarter-final clash, East Anglia is reaping the economic rewards from the national team's success.

While fans are hoping for a night rewarded with goals, the game also promises to be lucrative for businesses, pubs and shops in the region.

With sales of merchandise rocketing, England shirts being snatched off the shelves and pubs getting set for a busy weekday night, the region is booming.

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "I think football is of major importance to a large number of people in Suffolk. Therefore if England is doing well, which I hope they will, people will feel better about life.

"It's difficult to put a monetary value on it but the number of flags flying on cars and people's houses is illustrative of the way that people like to celebrate success.

"The celebratory business will benefit, which is down to the doubling of beer sales and that type of thing; anything that people do in the short term.

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"It's about living for the day and hoping that people turn up for work and in a better way.

"For the service sector it's good news when any team succeeds and a national team gives us that little bit extra.

"It just provides a welcome boost to many businesses on a weekday evening."

James Hehir, chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council, said: "We are all rooting for England to bring home the trophy and I am sure that the feel-good factor that would result from victory will help boost the local economy.

"Many people will want to celebrate and Ipswich, with its many restaurants, pubs and entertainment facilities, is one of the best places to celebrate in."

Paul Bird, manager of The Plough, in Dog's Head Street, Ipswich, said: "Trade will probably be up a little bit more I would think than other games as it's now the quarter finals.

"We've been busy for all three games and there are probably not that many more people we can fit in here and keep it as a safe environment.

"I've learnt from experience to keep the numbers down a bit as you still take as much money and people are more relaxed and can get to the bar."

He said that the match could increase the earning power of the pub, whereas England's defeat against France left most people "devastated" so they headed home.

And James Hosking, manager of The Curve Bar, in Princes Street, Ipswich, said he was expecting it to be about 20 times as busy as a normal Thursday.

He added: "If England do well then people will stay behind and keep drinking."

Tom Gilley, landlord of The White Swan, in London Road, Halesworth, said the pub was the only one in the town showing the match on a big screen.

And he added that he expected his takings to increase by more than 100% compared to a normal mid-week evening at the end of the month.

"I'm just hoping we've got enough beer," he joked.

Jan Rutherford, owner of The Queen's Head, in Churchgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, said: "The interest in it is growing more and it's becoming a lot more attractive now that we're into the quarter finals.

"There are a lot more girls coming this time; we've had a tremendous amount of girls down here. I think it's just a fun night out for everyone and people come for the atmosphere."

Ray Martin, manager of the Wig and Pen, in High Street, Colchester, said he has extra staff to cope with the surge in people on England's match nights, with 14 bar, management and door employees on duty tonight.

He added: "People have not got that type of money to go out all the time, during the week and the weekends.

"If we get through then we have got a match next Wednesday and people won't want to go out at the weekend as they will wait until then."

Helen Grace, personnel manager at Tesco in Ipswich, said beer, snacks and merchandise sales had increased significantly since the start of the competition.

"We have lots of T-shirts and sales have gone up. Beer sales have gone up significantly and snacks as well," she said.

"A lot of the staff wanted to watch the game and we gave everybody the option to rearrange their hours so they could. We have had no complaints at all and people have swapped shifts."

Meanwhile, customers are scrambling to get hold of the Wayne Rooney medal - part of Sainsbury's Official England Medal Collection - more than any other medal, and the customer careline is receiving hundreds of calls.

Sainsbury's has sold over 5,000 Rooney medals so far and he is outselling all other England players.

A swap shop will be up and running from July 4 so customers will not be disappointed.

The supermarket chain's website has also received thousands of hits from fans wanting to download the latest T-shirt design.

John Griffin, manager of Mick McNeill, in Upper Brook Street, in Ipswich, estimated the sports shop was taking about 10 to 15% more money compared to last year.

And he said that Rooney was definitely the most requested name to be printed on the shirts.

"We are doing very well and selling lots of home and away shirts and we're also printing a lot of shirts that have been bought at our shop and elsewhere.

"Sales have picked up the further along the line we go and it will all depend on how we do against Portugal.

"We have certainly sold a lot more of the England-related items. With Wimbledon on at the same time, we are doing quite well," he said.

Jenny Beardshall, manager of JJB Sports, in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, said she thought the merchandise was more popular this year and sales were increasing with every England win.

She added: "It's been brilliant. It's been mainly adults coming into buy things rather than children.

"We sell England shirts, footballs, gloves, shin pads, water bottles and hats. We ran out of flags sometime last week."

Matthew Chittock, assistant manager of First Sport, in Tavern Street, Ipswich, said: "There's been quite a steady flow throughout the tournament, it hasn't really increased or decreased with the wins.

"People have been coming in and buying the England stuff just before it started. The England shirt is the most popular and then random items are selling well just because they have the England logo."

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