Credit: Eva Rinaldi/Flickr

Britain's leisure industry is booming

Live music fans will push leisure spending beyond £80bn this year. Good news for the nation's ticket touts?

by Rebecca Smith
Last Updated: 14 Mar 2016

The rise of online ticket touts has been lambasted both by the general public and the artists whose tickets they sell with consumer group Which? recently chiming in to say these platforms cheat customers by flouting the Consumer Rights Act.

With that in mind, you might think music fans are becoming increasingly jaded by the process ­– often missing out on tickets to see their favourite acts, or having to shell out a small fortune to get their hands on a resold ticket.

Not so, according to Mintel, which said Britain’s spending on leisure activities will break the £80bn mark for the first time this year, driven by a booming live music market. It grew 45% between 2010 and 2015 with Brits predicted to spend £2.1bn on festivals and gigs in 2015.

It’s not surprising that artists have become more focused on live performances, churning out increasing numbers of dates for their fans. Declining revenues in the music industry as digital overtakes physical sales and people opt for subscriptions to streaming services, have meant many turn towards upping the number of shows they do to help pay the bills.

Britain's music industry is in good health at the moment – a recent report by trade body UK Music found the industry now employs 117,000 people and contributed £4.1bn in gross value added to the economy in 2013, up 5% from the previous year. Of that, £2.1bn was generated by exports - a much higher proportion than in most other industries. 

All of which may well have touts rubbing their hands together gleefully, though with more fans buying online, scrutiny could soon be on the increase too. The government has launched a review into the consumer protection measures applying to reselling tickets, though it’s pretty clear the current system isn’t working.

Which? found that vital booking information was often missing from many of the listings on some of the websites – breaching UK law. New rules brought into the Consumer Rights Act 2015 earlier this year said anyone reselling an event ticket via a secondary market website had to provide details of the block, row and the seat number, along with details on any restrictions and the face value of the ticket. A quick look on any resale site will show you how well that's going at the moment.

Adele has been one of the few artists to try and tackle the issue head on, as numerous problems cropped up with the tickets for her tour next year. The singer's management team brought in experts to exclude more than 18,000 ‘known or likely touts’ from the ticket buying process for her 2016 tour.

It’s not foolproof of course – you only need to check some of the big resale sites to see numerous people slipped through the net and are charging far over the odds – some asking for £2,000 upwards per ticket. While The Ticket Factory said any tickets that were purchased and sold on would be cancelled, Ticketmaster denied reports they were intending to do the same.

It’s an ongoing battle and not just a difficult one for the music industry. Sport, which has also been a major driver of UK leisure spending over the last five years, has also had issues with ticket reselling. Spending on live sports was 26% higher than five years ago at £1.4bn, so again fans haven't been put off quite yet, though with rising public criticism, you do wonder if the tide is turning.

Britons feeling worn out by the reselling saga could of course opt for another popular leisure activity – the cinema industry is on track to be the fastest-growing sector of 2015. It grew 13% on last year to £1.6bn, with Star Wars and James Bond providing a welcome boost. But while going to the flicks might mean you avoid the premium charged by a ticket tout, £4 boxes of popcorn aren't exactly a steal. 

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