As the cost of living crisis continues to affect millions across the UK consumers are continuing to tighten their belts – including buying less National Lottery products, according to Camelot.
Although the outgoing operator recorded sales of over £8bn for just the second time in the National Lottery’s history, the figure of £8.090.7m for the 2021/22 financial year marked a £283.2m decline on 2020/21 sales of £8.3bn.
In particular, Camelot pointed to decreased sales of National Lottery instants from £240m to £3,443.2m, due to ‘greater competition for people’s attention and spend’ as COVID-19 restrictions were gradually lifted and economic uncertainty began to set in.
Additionally, scratchcard sales also remain below pre-pandemic levels ‘in line with people’s changing shopping habits’ whilst lower play and wallet load limits for potentially at risk players impacted sales of online Instant Win Games.
Fewer customers also bought EuroMillions tickets as ‘spontaneous add on products’ during the 1 April 2021-31 March 2022 time period, further impacting instant win game sales. The number of EuroMillions rollovers also decreased, with 15 jackpots of over £100m recorded as opposed to 22 the year prior.
Camelot CEO Nigel Railton maintained a positive outlook, however, stating: “Achieving National Lottery sales of over £8bn two years in a row while maintaining very high levels of public participation – despite the challenging and changing external environment – proves that our strategy of offering great consumer choice in a safe and convenient way continues to be hugely successful.
“It’s also testament to the resilient, innovative and responsive business model that we’ve put in place over the last few years.”
Additionally, Camelot remains confident in its draw-based game sales, which hit £4.647.5m during 2021/22 – albeit still a ‘slight dip’ of £43.2m – with the flagship Lotto game and a ‘steady stream’ of Must Be Won Rollovers contributing to increased player positivity, engagement and retail footfall according to the group.
Although showing some resilience in accounting for over 60% of total National Lottery sales, retail continued to face some hurdles. Sales from this vertical declined marginally from £4.864.4m to £4,674.2m, earning retailers £265.5m in commission.
Moving forward, Camelot remains hopeful that new retail innovations will keep pace with changing customer shopping habits, having notably developed ‘bespoke solutions’ for Aldi and Iceland and making tickets available at Asda self-checkouts.
This has enabled the Lottery to establish 19,000 points of integrated distribution across these three retailers, whilst Camelot has also cooperated with Asda, Morrisons and Tesco to offer scratch cards on their website for delivery or click and collect.
Meanwhile, online sales also took a hit, declining by £93m to £3,416.5m. Camelot cited reduced individual spend by players due to ‘greater choice post lockdown’ as well as the aforementioned lower online play and wallet limits for at-risk players.
On the other hand, players who moved from retail to online during the pandemic were retained for the most part during 2021/22, with 1.8 million new player registrations recorded across the year, increasing the digital user base to a record 10.1 million active customers.
Retention was also bolstered by an extensive marketing campaign, with a strong focus on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, whilst the two National Lottery Homecoming events at Wembley Arena were broadcast by Channel 4 and the BBC.
“My 1,000 Camelot colleagues and I are incredibly proud of what we’ve built: a strong, resilient business and a huge UK brand that brilliantly connects The National Lottery’s unique purpose with play.
“In the year ahead, we’ll continue to invest and innovate to respond to the changing consumer environment because we all care deeply about the future of The National Lottery – and the vital difference that it continues to make to the whole of the UK.”
Lastly, although facing declines across its range of verticals, the National Lottery was able to generate £1,911.8m for Good Causes throughout the 2021/22 fiscal year – equating to £36m per week – an increase of £24.3m on the previous year.
This figure comes after Good Causes funding was raised as a prominent issue during the Fourth National Lottery licence contest, with MPs at one point hearing concerns from Olympic athletes regarding how and why funds have been spent.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) had previously reported that National Lottery Good Causes funding during Q4 (Jan-March 2022) had fallen 11% from the previous quarter and previous year, standing at £491.3m.
Concluding earlier this year, the licence contest saw Camelot evicted as the operator of the National Lottery by the UKGC, a position the Watford-based company has held since the lottery’s inception in 1994, being replaced by Czech multinational firm Allwyn.
Allwyn is due to become the next 10-year steward of the National Lottery from early 2024, although Camelot has launched a legal challenge against the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) decision, stalling the transition process to an extent.