RESEARCH | Staff Reporter, Australia

Edinburgh festivals have bigger commercial impact than Christmas, study says

Food and beverage spend increases significantly during the festivals compared to the rest of the year.

Consumers spend was higher at the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe than at Christmas, according to CACI.

The market research firm found that both festivals, which run from August 2 to 26 this year, create a commercial opportunity for retail and F&B businesses in the city bigger than Christmas in terms of consumer spend.

CACI analysed the anonymous usage patterns of mobile devices across the UK, looking at how patterns of behaviour change during such major tourism events as the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe, which were attended by a combined 3.2 million people in 2018.

During the festivals, data showed that Edinburgh’s catchment triples in size with people travelling from across the UK to visit. Outside the festival period, the majority of visitors to the city travel from within a 69-minute drive time, rising to 125 minutes during Christmas. This increases to 215 minutes in August.

Whilst spending by tourists and residents at Christmas is higher than during the festivals (£72 versus £112, and £83 versus £58, respectively), the ability of the festivals to attract such large volumes of tourists is said to create the additional Christmas effect. Tourists and residents both spend consistently during the festivals, with conversion at 67% amongst tourists and 69% for residents.

F&B spend increases significantly during the festivals compared to the rest of the year, driven by tourists who spend an average of £14 compared to £11 for residents. As well as spending more, tourists are also more likely to consume food and drink, with a 36% conversion rate versus 27% for residents.

“The significance of the findings however goes beyond Edinburgh too as they demonstrate the value for cities, and indeed the owners and managers of destinations in cities, of embracing culturally rich and diverse events. By doing so it is possible to increase spend, conversion and the scale of the catchment area from which visitors are attracted. As importantly, events create additional reasons for consumers to engage with a destination, broadening its role in their lives by increasing its relevance," CACI Property Consulting Group director Alex McCulloch explained.

Photo credit: Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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