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Will Royal Birth Boost U.K. Economy? Not as Much as Big Bro

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will soon head back to the same London hospital where Duchess Kate gave birth to their first child, George. They're hoping once again for a natural birth. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.
/ Source: NBC News

As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, await the birth of their second child, some experts said there could be a boost to the U.K. economy following the highly-anticipated event – but only if the baby's a girl.

Any day now an announcement of the birth of the royal baby is expected, although the exact due date is not known. The news is traditionally revealed by a notice being placed outside Buckingham Palace, although when Prince George was born the Palace also tweeted the news.

The baby is expected to be born at the same hospital as the couple's first child, Prince George, and the Lindo Wing at St.Mary's Hospital in London is expected to be the center of international media attention once the duchess goes into labor.

But the press won't be the only ones springing into action once the baby's arrival is announced -- if last time is anything to go by, retailers will also be poised to capitalize on the royal birth.

"After the birth of George, we saw a lot of retailers try and clamber on the bandwagon in terms of merchandising, but I don't think it will be as big for retailers as last time."

Boy or Girl?

U.K. bookmaker are taking bets on whether the royal arrival will be a boy or a girl, with the latter being the odds-on favorite.

The baby's sex could be crucial, according to one retail expert, who said it could determine the extent of the "baby boom" for the U.K. economy.

Joshua Bamfield, director of the U.K.'s Centre for Retail Research (CRR), told CNBC he expected the new arrival to bring a short-term boost to the U.K. economy of around £80 million ($120.4 million).

"I think there will be an immediate boost of around £80 million when the baby is born, with around £20 to £35 million spent on souvenirs and such like," Bamfield told CNBC, although he stressed that the excitement surrounding this baby was unlikely to reach levels seen when Prince George was born in July, 2013.

"If the weather is good…then we could expect more money to be spent on food and drink, as people have barbecues too," he added.

However, if the baby is a girl, the longer-term boost could be "quite significant," Bamfield argued, with the retail and fashion industries set to benefit in particular.

"If the baby is a girl, you can imagine how images of her are going to be pored over from the minute go -- to see what she's wearing, what brands Kate and William have dressed her in," he said.

"Right up to when she's older and attending proms or balls, she will be getting a lot of media attention in terms of fashion."

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The 'Kate effect'

This is certainly nothing new, with the Duchess of Cambridge's every outfit scrutinized by the global press. Kate has lent her support to British designers and has become something of an ambassador for the country's fashion industry-- boosting the profile, popularity and sales of some brands in what is now known as the "Kate effect."

Knowing the power of the royal seal of approval, brands fell over themselves to capitalize on Kate and William's royal wedding back in 2011 and the birth of their first child, George.

When his birth was announced, big brands took to social media sites like Twitter in a frenzy of #RoyalBaby tweets, trying to draw attention to their brands. According to the CRR, the first royal birth boosted retail sales by £247 million.

One company that saw sales rise following the birth was luxury pram maker Silver Cross. Its prams have been used by a number of British royals over the last century and the Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, chose to carry on the tradition with her son.

Hardworking Brits

Bryan Roberts, director of retail insights at Kantar Retail, told CNBC that although there had been "isolated booms" for retailers following Prince George's birth, there might only be a "modest jump" for retailers this time round.

"It might be good news for the newspapers and glossy magazines and there's no doubt that there will be a modest uptick for retailers," he told CNBC Friday.

"After the birth of George, we saw a lot of retailers try and clamber on the bandwagon in terms of merchandising, but I don't think it will be as big for retailers as last time."

Striking a Republican note, Roberts said that, in fact, most Brits had more things to worry about than another royal arrival.

"For many hardworking British civilians, it's not necessarily going to be a point of celebration that there's another member of the royal family," he said.