Two of the Premier League’s fiercest rivals, Manchester United and Chelsea, will go head to head as the FA Cup final kicks off at 5.15pm. Pubs and bars have been allowed to stay open an hour longer than normal licencing hours in celebration of the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which is to take place at midday that day. Traditionally, the FA Cup final is good news for hospitality businesses, with the UK’s pubs and bars in particular experiencing an influx of customers on the day of the final each year. Already in 2018, pub and bar owners have been cashing in on FA Cup fever. According to data from Worldpay, this year’s semi-final weekend, on 21 to 22 April, created a £43.4m bar rush across Britain, with £8m spent in London drinking holes alone. These figures could be even greater on Saturday 19 May, as pub and bar owners benefit from the extended licensing hours introduced for the Royal Wedding. Pubs and bars in certain areas of London have already experienced sharp increases in business due to the FA Cup this year, as Wembley Stadium played host to both semi-final matches in late April. Walthamstow, Hillingdon and Westminster, were three London boroughs where pubs and bars saw business increase by 31%, 21% and 11% respectively on semi-final weekend, whilst pubs in the City of London were 34% busier than normal. Despite Manchester United’s victory over rivals Arsenal on the day, the semi-final did little to improve trading for pubs and bars in the North of England. Pubs in Manchester, for example, only took 4.3% more payments on semi-final weekend 2018 compared with the previous weekend. Commenting on the potential for a lucrative weekend’s trading for UK pub and bar owners, executive vice president for UK and Europe at Worldpay, Steve Newton, said: “It will be landlords and bar owners who are rubbing their hands together at the prospect – especially in the capital. “Football fans who have a penchant for the royal family will have initially been mortified when the wedding was announced as taking place on the same day as the biggest match in the English football calendar.” Other types of business, including taxi services and food delivery firms, can also expect an influx of business because of the FA Cup final. On semi-final weekend, for example, spending on taxis in London increased by 7%, whilst takeaway food purchases went up 12% across the capital city, rising by as much as 71% in Stratford. Newton added: “With pubs being allowed to stay open to 1am on Friday and Saturday night, other businesses will likely enjoy an increase in custom, as football supporters take advantage of the extra hour of trade to celebrate their team’s victory, drown their sorrows, or raise a glass to the newlyweds.”
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