THIS year’s Pride celebrations brought in at least £20 million for the city, say organisers.

And that is good news for small businesses which rely on the festival for their annual income.

Figures from Brighton and Hove Pride show the annual LGBT extravaganza boost the local economy by some £20.5 million.

This year hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the seaside to enjoy the Pride parade, watch Kylie Minogue’s show in Preston Park and party all weekend, all of them spending money in the city.

Paul Kemp, managing director of Pride, said: “After Pride 2018 we commissioned Tourism South East to evaluate the economic benefit to Brighton and Hove over Pride weekend and it was estimated that over £20.5 million was brought into the city’s economy.

“Tourism and events in our city are the lifeblood of our economy and what makes Brighton and Hove stand out as a visitor destination.

“Many small local businesses rely on the annual income from Pride and other events to stay in business all year round.

“This year we launched the City Angels initiative to promote a closer working partnership between Brighton and Hove Pride with local retailers, restaurants, hotels and other businesses to help promote the city throughout the year.”

Pride events take place all over the city, from Pride In The Park to the St James’s Street Village Party.

It means many roads are closed, so some businesses choose to shut for the weekend as they miss out on trade.

But plenty of companies in St James’s Street and beyond believe the positive impact the festival has outweighs the loss of business for some.

Peter Booth, area manager of Prowler, an LGBT leisure store on St James’s Street, said: “Pride always has been a busy time of year for us. People enjoy themselves and come and buy rainbow flags.

“But the amount of money businesses take is astronomical, it really benefits those local traders. And it brings the community together, it’s a wonderfully inclusive event.”

Calandra Balfour, who works in sex shop Lust, in Duke Street, said: “In terms of a big event going on in the city we aren’t much more profitable.

“But to even think of the Pride boost as only coming from that one weekend is quite short sighted.

“It’s not just about how well the shops do, it’s about the boost from people staying in hotels and the benefit to other businesses.

“It’s so much more far reaching than people realise.

“Some people could grumble and complain but if Pride didn’t happen then so many colourful, wonderful, people wouldn’t be here.

“We are a liberal town and if you take away something like Pride you take away that liberation.

“The festival also seems to bring everyone together – that can be more important than any money because it’s about community.”

Some residents in Brighton are critical of Pride – there were particular problems last year with rubbish, poor behaviour and transport issues.

But most agree the financial benefits outweigh any issues.

Meghann Creffield lives in High Street, Kemp Town, and has to get a wristband every year to allow her access to her home during the St James’s Street Village Party.

But she said: “I’m in full support of Pride.

“It can be an inconvenience but you get wristbands to make sure you can get entry.

“This year I did have an issue getting into my street and if they are making all this money they should make sure there are better ways of allowing residents entry to their properties.

“But while it can be an inconvenience it’s great that it brings in so much money to the city.”

Omaid Hiwaizi, another Brighton resident, said: “I’m delighted that it brings so much money into the city

“A couple of days of something being shut is a small price to pay for that type of support for the city.

“It’s not just the money – if people want to live in a beige market town they should move somewhere else.

“If people want to object to Pride they probably want to live in a dull place.”

A spokesman from Brighton and Hove City Council said: “Brighton Pride is an event that showcases our city positively right across the world.

“Yet again, Pride showed the full diversity of the city coming together to support each other.

“The event is a platform to raise issues around hate crime and an opportunity to work together to combat it and the harm caused.

“It shows that being out, proud and beautifully loud is still an effective way of communicating solidarity and the quest for full equality.

“Other than the money that comes in for businesses that support Pride, it also generates capital for communities and raises a huge amount of donations for LGBTQ charities in the city.

“This year marks 50 years since the Stonewall uprising, so this year’s Pride was an especially significant chance to continue the much-needed fight for equality and inclusion for LGBTQ people and we thank everyone who helps make the event an enormous success.”