Post-Pandemic Retail Slump Affects UK National Lottery Sales

Post-Pandemic Retail Slump Affects UK National Lottery Sales

National Lottery sales show the effects of a post-pandemic reduction in footfall coupled with the cost-of-living crisis as ticket sales drop during the 2021-22 period.

Camelot, The National Lottery operator, has revealed its sales figures for the year to March 2022. The operator recorded a 2.5% drop in sales from the previous year (total sales of £8.09bn, down from £8.3bn). However, lottery sales still broke records as this is only the second time on record that figures have reached over £8bn.

Retail sales remained the most popular way for consumers to buy tickets, making up almost 60% of total sales. However, the retail stream was down year-on-year (YoY) due to ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic at the start of the year (affecting shopper frequency and footfall), and now the cost-of-living crisis, which is seeing a reduction in consumer spending across the UK.

During the period, online sales boomed, with a record number of consumers buying tickets digitally. Overall revenue from this channel was also down with this year’s digital sales at £3.42bn, a £93.0m YoY. Camelot has attributed the loss to greater consumer choice and the introduction of lower online limits for potentially at-risk consumers. 

Throughout the pandemic, many players migrated from retail to online purchases, with 1.8m new player registrations nationwide. There are now 10.1m active digital lottery players in the UK. 72% of the online sales were made by mobile, driven by the growth of The National Lottery’s app, which recorded increased sales of £93.5m, making a record high £1.69bn in sales.

Across the year, despite fewer EuroMillions rollovers (there were 15 draws with a jackpot over £100m compared with 22 the previous year), revenue for draw games only saw a slight sales reduction of £43.2m. The main product drop was for National Lottery Instants, with total sales down £240m YoY. Including unclaimed prizes, £1.91bn from the year’s revenue goes to good causes and players won £4.61bn. This is a slight dip from the preceding year, with record-high total wins of £4.85bn. 

Camelot Chief Executive Nigel Railton has said that breaking records for over £8bn in sales for two years in a row while maintaining high standards of participation during challenging events shows that Camelot’s strategy of offering great products securely continues to be successful. It is also a testament to how they have run the lottery, building it into a resilient business model. 

He said that particular achievements included building the brand, which had seen The National Lottery celebrate lottery players’ contribution to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and issuing money-saving promos for players as government COVID restrictions were reduced.

The UK Gambling Commission announced in March 2022 that Camelot will no longer run The National Lottery from 2024. The UKGC has awarded the license to Allwyn (formerly The Sazka Group). Camelot has been the sole operator of The National Lottery since 1994. 

Camelot is currently challenging the decision in the High Court. The decision not to renew Camelot’s lottery license came as a shock to the company, which despite lengthy correspondence, has not received a “satisfactory response” from the UKGC, leaving them with no choice but to challenge it in court. Camelot employs over 1,000 staff across its lottery divisions.

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