Raj Solomon, proprietor of Piccadilly Cards, a thin sliver of a store flogging souvenirs opposite the Royal Academy of Arts in central London, is expecting a lucrative summer.
During the Jubilee celebrations last year he could barely keep pace with the demand for Queen Elizabeth II key rings and tea towels. Next month, with the expected birth of Britain's heir to the throne, it will be coats of arms pacifiers and "I love my Uncle Harry" bibs. "Everyone's waiting for that baby," says Mr. Solomon happily.
The firstborn of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge is due in July. During that month and until the end of August, British retail sales will get a £243 million ($376 million) boost, predicts the Centre for Retail Research. Its report, published last month estimated that Brits will spend an extra £62 million ($94 million) on alcohol and £80 million ($121 million) on souvenirs and toys in two months.
Even weeks before the baby's due date, barely an opportunity has been missed to cash in on his or her imminence.
Butter London, a high-end cosmetics brand, has put out a $20 nail varnish called Pitter Patter. Across the country, hotels and restaurants are offering Royal Baby showers designed to make pregnant women feel like duchesses. The shop at Highgrove, Prince Charles's home, is selling handmade leather baby shoes at $34 a pair.
"We didn't experience such excitement when William was born in 1982 and certainly not when Prince Charles was born in 1948," says Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine. "I think it's the great immediacy it all has now, thanks to the Internet."
Indeed Joshua Barnfield, director of CRR, says he estimates Brits "will spend three or four times more than at the births of Prince William and Harry."
The Internet, with its speedy dissemination of information and selling power is one reason for the big spending. Another is a resurgence of interest in the royal family following the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. Their low-level glamour and evident happiness has made them—along with Prince Harry, who has shown a surprising flair for international diplomacy—the most popular royals in years.
The wedding, and the following summer's celebrations for Elizabeth's 60 years on the throne, showed off the spectacular pomp at which Britain still excels.
Months later the 2012 Summer Olympics, followed by the most watched Paralympics in history, heightened the patriotic mood. At a time when post-empire Britain has little to distinguish it from other countries, patriotism and support for the royal family are easily conflated in the popular imagination.
But changing behavior of consumers has also played its part.
"We do a lot of research into consumer behavior and there is an increasing tendency to celebrate things these days," says Mr. Barnfield. "If someone had a party to mark a royal baby's birth in the '70s or '80s people would say, 'Er, why are you doing that?'"