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Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton will cost the economy ￡5billion by creating consecutive four-day weekends in April, businesses have warned.|
David Cameron confirmed that the nation would be given an extra bank holiday to celebrate the marriage, which will take place at Westminster Abbey on Friday, April 29.
It means Britain will be open for business on only three days between April 22 and May 2, because Easter is the weekend before the wedding, and the May Day bank holiday is the following Monday.
Employers said yesterday that small businesses in particular would suffer because of lost sales, while others warned that some companies would effectively be shut down for the 11-day period because many staff would take the three-day week as annual leave.
There were also concerns that some workers could call in sick for the three working days to give themselves a week off.
Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the extra bank holiday could not have come at a worse time. “This is a real area of concern,” he said. “After the hike in VAT in January, which could really slow consumer demand, many will be looking to a really strong Easter to get their business going.
“But there will be a real temptation for workers not to bother going in to work [in the week of the royal wedding]. It will be a three-day week and it could see many businesses just shut down.”
While a spokesman for the CBI welcomed the declaration of a bank holiday, the organisation has calculated previously that such breaks cost the economy ￡6 billion in lost productivity and overtime payments. For some businesses, however, the holiday is expected to bring extra cash through the tills, with the wedding expected to claw back up to ￡1 billion in extra tourist revenues and sales of memorabilia.
Retailers and publicans predicted that the extra day off would generate revenue from shoppers and drinkers.
Workers will enjoy three weeks in a row of short hours, starting with Holy Week on April 18, which will have four working days.
The following week, starting April 25, will be a three-day week, with Easter Monday and the wedding day, as bank holidays, with another four-day week to follow because of May Day.
Mark Dampier, a financial commentator at Hargreaves Lansdown, an independent financial adviser, said: “Bank holidays are never good for businesses. Workers tend not to take just that one day off, but the whole week.
“Though this may be less disruptive than if it had been held in June or July. At this time many workers will be off anyway because of Easter.”
The Church of England bishop who predicted that the marriage of Prince William and Miss Middleton would not last faces losing his job.
The Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, the Bishop of Willesden, was suspended and relieved of his duties by the Bishop of London yesterday despite his unreserved apology.
The marriage will take place at Westminster Abbey on Friday, April 29, as the picture enclosed shows