Festival commerce set to boom as merchants predict a 12 per cent increase in revenue over the next five years

  • Brits are expected to spend £1.2bn at festival pop-up stalls this summer, buying food, clothes, merchandise and testing out experiences
  • Of those that attend festivals, four in ten prefer shopping on-site compared to online or on the high street
  • Eight in ten businesses see festivals as fertile ground to trial ideas, with half testing products they have later rolled out commercially
  • Engaged audiences, longer dwell times and a thirst for discovery create the perfect opportunity to connect with festival fans

Research released today by Barclaycard* into the spending habits of UK festival-goers, reveals that pop-up commerce presents a growing opportunity for businesses, with those selling at live events benefiting from increased revenue, improved customer engagement and longer lasting loyalty.

The figures show that Brits are set to spend £1.2bn** shopping in the festival fields this summer, with the average attendee shelling out £67 a day on food, fashion, merchandise and testing out experiences on-site.

With purchasing decisions driven by a desire for unique products that can’t be found elsewhere (80 per cent), heightened emotions (73 per cent), and open-mindedness (19 per cent), merchants anticipate their sales will continue to rise. In fact, those present at live events expect their revenue to increase 12 per cent over the next five years.

Almost four in ten (37 per cent) festival-goers now favour shopping on-site compared to online or the high street, while 31 per cent consider events a better place to uncover new trends. Just under half (45 per cent) also prefer the unusual product offering often found when browsing pop-up stalls.

An engaged audience (81 per cent), space to create a memorable brand experience (80 per cent), longer dwell times (67 per cent) and a thirst for discovery (28 per cent) are citied as the key factors encouraging Brits to spend while on-site. Central to this is the impact that watching live entertainment has on mood and feelings, with 73 per cent of festival fans admitting this makes them more receptive to trying new products or brands.

Making memories is also increasingly important to Brits when deciding how to spend their money, with many keen to take away something extra from their festival experience. Four in ten (41 per cent) also state feeling more connected to the products they buy at a live event, over those made on the high street or online.  

Festivals are a fertile ground for business

With the festival industry currently worth over £2.46bn*** and 36 per cent of Brits planning to attend a festival this summer, live events pose an increasingly lucrative opportunity for new and established brands.

To capitalise on this, the majority of merchants see festivals as fertile ground to trial new products and ideas (84 per cent), with half (50 per cent) testing products that they have later rolled out online or in store.

Of those that have used festivals as a testing ground, over four in five (84 per cent) put this choice down to the open-mindedness of attendees, with the ability to receive direct feedback (83 per cent) also ranking highly. In response, 80 per cent of businesses have developed new ranges to cater for those looking for unusual and niche products.

The unique festival environment also gives increased precedence to ‘word of mouth’ recommendations, which seven in ten (72 per cent) merchants feel is very important for consumers when deciding what to buy.

From festival food to trying something new

Unsurprisingly, sustenance tops the list for how Brits are spending their money at festivals, with food and drink accounting for an average daily spend of £46 per person. But gone are the days of just beers and burgers, today’s festivals are serving up more exotic options, including thali (16 per cent), fish curry (14 per cent) and Kimchee (14 per cent). Six per cent of festival-goers have even tested their taste buds by trying insects while on-site.

In the next two to three years, nine in ten (91 per cent) merchants also predict an even bigger interest in all things green, with more sustainable and plant-based products expected to be available at festivals. A wider variety of businesses selling on-site (72 per cent) and more experience-based offerings such as comedy, yoga, silent discos and skills-based workshops (66 per cent), as well as more fashion and homeware (52 per cent) is also likely to be on offer.

Daniel Mathieson, Head of Sponsorship at Barclaycard, said:

“Pop-up commerce is thriving across the UK festival scene, as brands compete to provide the ultimate fan experience. With more ways to engage audiences alongside demand for a deeper connection to the products they try and buy, festivals are becoming a fertile ground for all kinds of businesses to grow.

“In recent years we’ve also seen festivals start to offer dedicated event spaces to brands while providing activations on-site has also become increasingly popular. As festival spending looks set to rise, my advice to UK businesses is to explore the sales and marketing opportunities the UK live entertainment scene presents, or risk losing out to more savvy competitors.”

Joe Moruzzi, Pleesecakes, comments:

“Festivals are hugely important to us and we continue to see a steady growth with our annual revenue which is hugely boosted from these. They give consumers the chance to meet us, find out more about where our products come from and the story behind our brand.

“In turn, festivals provide the opportunity to ask for direct feedback on new flavours or creations, making them the perfect environment for market research. We ensure the feedback we receive plays a vital role in shaping and growing our business.” 

To help people discover even more from their festival experience, Barclaycard has created a ‘Sensorium’ – an immersive structure that will take festival-goers at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time in Hyde Park (5-14 July) on a multisensory journey designed to open the mind and prime music fans for discovery. 

Find out more at Barclaycard Entertainment.

Notes to editors

*A survey of 2,000 British adults was carried out by OnePoll from 19th – 24th June 2019, and of 200 festival merchants by Opinium from 24th May – 21st June 2019.

**£1.2bn total spend calculated as: percentage of the UK adult population planning to attend a festival this summer multiplied by the total spend at festivals per day = £1,156,632,765.58.

***The UK concert and music festivals market is estimated to be worth £2.46 billion. Mintel UK Music Festival and Markets Report, August 2018.

For further information, please contact Rebecca Butler, PR Manager at Barclaycard on Rebecca.Butler@barclaycard.co.uk / 020 7116 1993 

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit and point-of-sale finance. In 2018 we processed nearly £268bn in transactions globally. Barclaycard is a pioneer of new forms of payment and is at the forefront of developing viable contactless and mobile payment schemes for today and cutting-edge forms of payment for the future. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.


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About AEG Presents

AEG Presents is AEG's live-entertainment division, a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production.  AEG Presents is behind festivals such as California’s famed Coachella, Los Angeles’ Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, London’s British Summer Time Hyde Park and All Points East, Paris’ Rock en Seine and a myriad of tours, live shows and venues around the world including the world’s most popular venue The O2 in London, LA’s Staples Center and many more.