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DIANA'S DEATH CUT CONSUMER SPENDING

The gloom that gripped Britain after Princess Diana's death was a big blow for the nation's retailers, who suffered the biggest monthly drop in consumer spending in more than six years.

Government statistics released Wednesday showed that while florists, bookstores and record dealers enjoyed windfall sales, most other merchants were hammered by what economists are now calling "the Diana effect."

It added up to a 1.9 percent drop in consumer spending from August to September.

Stores across Britain were closed during the funeral of the popular princess -- which came on a Saturday, the most important day of the week for retailers. And both before and after Diana was buried, many people were too sad to shop.

The princess died Aug. 31 in a Paris car crash.

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