The Games of two halves
The Olympic Games came to London at a crucial time for the UK, with everybody hoping that the economy could be lifted by a summer that highlighted the best of Brand Britain. But was it enough to give the UK momentum enough to avoid another dip into recession?
Although the full long-term impact of summer 2012 remains to be seen, there are signs that the UK has seen some benefits, although the picture is still mixed.
Initial ONS statistics from the run-up period to the Games, showed a less than spectacular picture of retail sales, with growth actually lower than the previous month, despite the opening days of the Games. This isn't all too surprising, as both excitement and consternation were equally prevalent in the capital throughout the build-up. Transport for London was warning commuters against travelling through the centre of the city for fear of overcrowding and the country's press gloomily forecasted a lack of success for Team GB and chaos on the streets of the capital.
However, this was not the whole story. Once the games got underway and Team GB began pulling in a haul of medals, the mood lifted considerably.
The official figures from the ONS showed a surprise 0.3% increase in sales in July and the figure for June was revised significantly higher to 0.8% from a previous estimate of 0.1% after "additional information" was received from retailers.
"Businesses appear to have prepared pretty well for the Games, with four out of five assessing the impact on their operations. However, the survey was conducted in week one and both London and its businesses will be tested more significantly in week two as crowds going to the Park increase for the Stadium events."
Rick Cudworth, games readiness partner at Deloitte
In addition, research provided by financial services firm Deloitte gathered in August suggested that, although not to the extent that many had anticipated, the Olympic Games was providing a net positive impact to large businesses in London. According to Deloitte's survey of 100 large companies, 42% reported an increase in demand since the start of the Games, compared with 27% who reported a decrease.
Unsurprisingly, it was the retail and hospitality industries that were at the forefront of the positive trend, with 68% of respondents in the travel, hospitality and leisure (THL) industries and 59% of retailers reporting an increase in demand, compared with 18% and 32% respectively reporting a decrease.
In the end, the UK's retail and hospitality industries will prove deserving winners from the Games. IOC president, Jacques Rogge applauded British hospitality in his speech at the closing Olympic Games ceremony, rounding off a fortnight in which the country's welcome has been a major talking point for both athletes and visitors.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, added: "The 2.4 million people who work in hospitality have been the greatest-ever ambassadors for Britain. We must now harness this success and the worldwide visibility that the Games have given us to spread the message that the UK is very much open for business and has a fabulous welcome to offer everyone this year, and in the future."