British Events economy could face a £25bn drop in 2020 due to COVID-19

Together with Travel and Tourism, the Events industry is amongst those experiencing the biggest negative impact from COVID-19, as social distancing measures effectively continue to put a hold on traditional events. Predictions still indicate a 46% decline on a global level in 2020 alone.

However, the decline in Britain is expected to be even bigger – at 50%, which translates into a drop in the economy of £25bn.

Although the market is expected to see some movement towards pre-COVID-19 conditions in the months and years to come, and several new virtual event-types are emerging, the impact of COVID-19 measures are expected to have a long-lasting effect. During the next five years, the accumulated decline in the Events industry economics could surpass £100bn.

A recent study performed by global events firm Evendo reveals a significant decline in customer demand for ‘traditional’ event offerings – typically events, where groups of people are together in confined spaces indoors or outdoors. Although the market is expected to somewhat recover, the current outlook for 2020 is chilling compared to 2019.

Kasper Larsen, CEO of Evendo said: “As different countries have varying preferences when it comes to events – the composition of demand in those countries will also result in differing impacts on their national economies. Compared to other countries however, across which the average decline in event demand is around 46%, Britains average decline is around 50%, that’s almost 9% higher than the global average.”

Unsurprisingly, the biggest decline is seen in demand for Group Indoor activities. Such activities include popular Escape Rooms and are those most impacted by COVID-19 restrictions and national guidelines. As this type of activity is also in greater demand in Britain than in for example the United States, the British Event Industry is facing a bigger decline than other countries in absolute numbers.

From the expected total decline in the British Event industry, the decline in Group Indoor activities makes up for 65% – a decline of £17bn in 2020 alone.

Are virtual events taking over?

Over the past few years, the events industry saw the inevitable introduction of virtual experiences and activities alongside the increasing mass adoption of group video tools such as Zoom. Once COVID-19 hit, virtual experiences grew exponentially as customers began looking for new ways to get around close contact groupings. Does this mean that these ‘virtual’ events are now taking over from ‘traditional’ events? The answer is: To some extent.

As a consequence of COVID-19, the demand for virtual experiences has seen an increase of 241%. However, even after this increase, virtual experiences only make up for around 3% of the total Event economy.

As 62% of the total demand for virtual experiences originates from United States, the positive impact from the increase in demand for these, does not contribute as much in Britain.

In addition, the relative demand for virtual experiences is expected to decrease over time as well, although it is also expected to settle at a level above ‘pre-COVID-19’.