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Big Sporting Events: An Open Goal for Retailers

6 minute read

Although football may not have “come home” for England, this summer’s headline sporting event, the World Cup in Russia created unprecedented levels of national excitement in the UK in a way that only football seems able to do.

This sense of anticipation was not just contained to people’s living rooms, as the British High Street quickly became one of the big beneficiaries of the World Cup effect, with pubs and bars emerging as clear winners.

According to Cardlytics UK purchase insights, which is based on more than half a million football fans, the initial knockout stages were the busiest week in British consumer spending, when compared to the rest of the tournament.

During the week that England took on Colombia and Sweden in the round of 16, all categories experienced double-digit growth compared to the week before. Specifically, sports outlets, such as Sports Direct, Nike, Asics and Under Armour, experienced the highest increase.

The spending figures also reveal favourable levels of spending compared to England’s last major international football tournament: the first two weeks of the World Cup saw five out of six High Street categories increase, resulting in a 9% sales uptick compared to Euros 2016.

Knockout week the real game-changer

The first week of knockout-round fixtures provided the biggest retail boost across all categories.

As the tournament headed towards its latter stages, the fashion and sports outlets saw the biggest increases, of 21.3% and 25.7% respectively.

Grocery chains (+15%) and pubs/bars (+14.7%) also benefitted, as fans gathered in pubs and homes to watch England’s crucial R16 and quarter-final fixtures.

In total, all categories experienced a 15.3% increase compared to the previous week.

Playing it safe with pizza

Opting for the dining equivalent of ‘Route One Football’, pizza was the most popular food option during the tournament.

Spending with pizza delivery brands such as Domino’s and Papa John’s increased in the first two weeks of the World Cup, compared to the prior two weeks. Major brands, like those, also outperformed traditional delivery services by nearly three times during the initial knockout week.

Big spending for the big occasions

What this particular data shows marketers is that football fans have become a huge consumer group, and their spending can be particularly powerful during big-ticket events such as the World Cup.

Marketers should stay on top of how spending habits are affected by headline events, as it helps them to understand their target audience even better during these crucial moments. Furthermore, enhancing the understanding of these patterns with clear data presents an open goal for brands and retailers – missing it will leave them on the sidelines.

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