On Thursday, the 2014 World Cup will officially kick off in Brazil, marking a second phase in griping about the event—namely, how expensive everything is in the already uber-expensive (see: $35 pizza, $100 risotto) Rio de Janeiro.
A Brazilian developer even launched an app—for locals—which allows users to compare prices of nearby goods. Ju$to creator Pedro Almeido told the Guardian that “just like London, we are having a housing bubble… and that’s putting a lot of pressure on prices across the board, especially food and services.” Now, he sees the app as a tool for tourists as well: “During the World Cup, tourists will be coming here in droves and definitely won’t be able to navigate where to go, or where to eat because of the language barrier. The price surge this year is bigger than in previous years.”
To be sure, the Brazilian economy is taking a very, very large hit by hosting the event. South Africa, where the 2010 World Cup was held, is still feeling the effects of the costly game. The country spent roughly $3.9 billion overall, including on state-of-the-art stadiums that remain largely unused and, according to the Globe and Mail, continue to bleed money:
The occasional Justin Bieber or Bon Jovi concert—along with the $4 tours for a few hundred visitors per week—is not nearly enough to cover [one stadium’s] operating costs. The 55,000-seat stadium is losing an estimated $6-million to $10-million (US) annually. Some residents have even suggested that it should be demolished to save money.
Still, the event is undeniably sparking growth in certain areas—but not always in Brazil. Here’s a list of industries experiencing a slight boom thanks to the event, both in and out of the country.
Bloomberg reported back in August that hotel room rates could be six times higher than usual during the games. Visitors are so desperate for rooms (they say) that they’re even renting at sex motels, which are generally just used for, well, sex. One sex motel manager told CNN that rooms are being rented for $105 to $620 per night, which is about double the rate of a half-day stay. He added that he expects bookings from foreign clients to boost business by about 20%. Speaking of sex motels….
Many of Brazil’s one million prostitutes have been studying English ahead of the games. VOXXI wrote last year that in Belo Horizonte, a host city that is home to dozens of brothels, prostitutes can take free lessons. One of the volunteer teachers said that the participating sex workers will learn basic expressions but also have demonstrations with erotic paraphernalia so they learn the names, how to use them and propose them.” Ewan MacKenna visited a sex worker union for The Independent, and learned from an office reception that the prostitutes expect to bring in more business during the games. “For sure [the city’s prostitutes] will get more money with the World Cup… in the nightclubs they’ll be earning a lot. It’s normal for foreign guys to look for them, they always do, and now there’ll be more foreign guys. They’ll do very well.”
Prostitution is legal in Brazil (though brothels are not) so the extra business will be seen as a positive in certain sectors. But there are fears that child sex workers (also, obviously, illegal) will be forced into work at higher rates.
UK retailer John Lewis told the Guardian it saw a 47% surge in television sales in the week of May 31 (compared to last year’s sales during that week). That growth is expected to continue—the Guardian reports that England has been expecting a boost in sales thanks to the event:
British stores were expected to sell an additional 170,000 televisions between late April and the beginning of the tournament, worth around £70m more than would usually be expected, according to research by industry analysts GfK. It said sound bars, which boost television speaker quality, were also likely to sell well.
Japanese manufacturers are also hoping that the event will help boost sales of HD sets.
According to FoodManufacture.co.uk, British home-bound World Cup fans (the games will air on the later side in England) are likely to spur sales in food and alcohol to be consumed at home. Per the website, fans are expected to spend about $50 million on snacks and about $129 million on alcohol. Altogether, Britain could see a $367 million boost in the food and drink industry thanks to the games.
Bangladesh, which supplies many major retailers with factory-made clothing, is seeing a $500 million boost thanks to a 14% spike in jersey exports. Mohammad Hatem, who heads up the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told Agence France-Presse that “Some 100 of our factories got orders to make jerseys for World Cup fans. We don’t have an accurate figure of the total value of the World Cup related merchandise exports. But it will be between $500-$1,000 million.”
Unfortunately, the extremely poor conditions for workers in the country’s garment industry could make this a dangerous boom.