Camelot has announced its second best ever ticket sales for the first six months of the 2020-21 financial year, overcoming an 18 per cent hit to sales at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Lottery operator has shown considerable resilience and adaptability to post sales of £3.85 billion, a marginal decrease of 1.7 per cent on the same period in the previous year.
Camelot said a series of urgent interventions to minimise the effects of the pandemic on sales has been key to the strong performance.
“Thanks to the strong foundations we established following our strategic review – combined with our years of experience and some innovative thinking – we’ve moved quickly and decisively, and adapted to the ever-changing situation. That has enabled us to continue running The National Lottery safely and responsibly because we know the huge amount of good it does across the UK,” said Nigel Railton, Camelot chief executive.
The firm generated £863.7 million, excluding investment returns, for National Lottery Good Causes. This represents a decline of 1.5 per cent when compared to the same period last year, but Camelot distributed over £800 million to date across the UK to help tackle the impact of coronavirus.
Camelot awarded £2.24 billion in prizes to players in the first half, £5.5 million more than last year.
The company witnessed fifth consecutive quarter of digital growth, leading to record online sales of £1.62 billion, an increase of £455.2 million, and the mobile sales grew by £379.7 million to an all-time high of £1.12 billion.
The sales growth was underpinned by over 1.3 million new online registrations, as Camelot made it easier for people who might traditionally play in retail to play online during lockdown.
Despite the lockdown leading to significant reductions in footfall and shopper frequency, retail remains the largest National Lottery sales channel. Over the period, in-store sales decreased by £522.4 million to £2.23 billion.
From July to September, National Lottery sales saw a 15.2 per cent quarter-on-quarter increase as restrictions were lifted. This helped retailers to earn £126.5 million in commission over the half year, an average of around £2,800 per store over the six months.
Railton said the second half of the year will be challenging due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and recessionary headwinds.
“While there are no guarantees that we’ll finish the year in as strong a place as we ended the first half, we’ll continue to focus on our strategy for long-term, responsible growth – adapting our plans as necessary according to the circumstances,” he said.