Changing the face of retail

25 years on, Camelot retail director Jenny Blogg has outlined how the National Lottery is still living up to its commitments to independent retailers.

In an exclusive interview with betterRetailing, Blogg said the National Lottery “has changed the face of UK retail” and compared the National Lottery’s launch in 1994 with its performance today: On the first day of sales, one store sold nearly 1,000 tickets per hour.

Asked whether it was still delivering the same excitement in independent stores, Blogg answered: “We’re now two years on from our strategic review and our sales are in growth. We’re in really good shape, had a couple of game changes, the launch of Set for Life and phenomenal EuroMillions roll series, £174m for good causes in that series alone and it gave us the highest UK jackpot winner.”

Read more: Camelot celebrates 25 years of National Lottery with new games

On a lottery mission

After the first ever National Lottery draw, EPoS provider CTN systems found that 20% of ticket buyers had purchased additional items in store. Explaining basket spends today, the retail director claimed two thirds of ticket sales were planned purchases. “Around 90% of players are loyal to one shop when they are on a lottery mission, and they spend £27 per visit on additional items in store.”

Independent shops said Sunday morning became their strongest trading hours due to an estimated one million winners claiming prizes in the first draw. Camelot’s strategic review in 2017 led to a return to more frequent wins alongside bigger jackpots.

Last year we launched a retailer reward scheme and in the last six months we’ve paid out £600,000 in rewards, and we’ve relaunched our retailer hub to make getting help more convenient. We are absolutely serious about independent retailer engagement and advocacy   JENNY BLOGG

Blogg added: “From the feedback we receive, we can tell those mechanics are working. We’re getting more people contacting us saying ‘I’ve won, how do I reclaim my prize?’ It has definitely reinvigorated Sunday volume in a positive way.”

At launch, the Camelot network went live with 4,000 sites, all independent retailers. Blogg confirmed that 44,000 sites now offer National Lottery services, including new sites in Aldi stores and Asda self-checkouts.

Changing habits

Asked if Camelot was looking to further grow its retail network, the retail boss answered: “A lot of retailers have some very ambitious targets around how many transactions they want to push through self-checkouts. We’re aware of scan-as-you-go, click-and-collect and deliveries, we’re always keeping an eye on that and thinking how we could evolve in the future but we have no plans right now to do anything radical.

“We’re clear our growth comes from the current estate, but shopper habits are changing. Longer term it’s inevitably part of our plan, but for today’s world, this year and next year it’s delivering on what we’ve already done.”

Read more: Camelot launches National Lottery retailer hub

Challenged on whether recent expansion into the multiples means Camelot is no longer as focused on independent stores, Blogg responded: “Last year we launched a retailer reward scheme and in the last six months we’ve paid out £600,000 in rewards, and we’ve relaunched our retailer hub to make getting help more convenient. We are absolutely serious about independent retailer engagement and advocacy.”

Renewed focus

The license renewal to operate the National Lottery begins next year and it has been claimed regulators are looking for a greater focus on online sales. Asked to guarantee that retail would remain the core part of Camelot’s bid, Blogg responded: “We are waiting to find out ourselves the conditions of the license and what the Gambling Commission is looking for so it’s hard to comment, but stores should be assured that 75% of our current sales comes through retail.”

When initially launched, it was claimed that Set for Life would attract younger customers to the lottery. In Q1 2019 the game accounted for 7% of draw based revenues, but has it succeeded in bringing new users to the lottery? Blogg responded: “Half a million new players have been brought into the category by Set for Life, yes it was about talking to new younger players, but it was also talking to existing players.”

Read more: John Major warns of risk to National Lottery

Recently, Camelot ended £10 scratchcards after concerns about problem gambling. Asked about the impact on shop sales, Blogg told betterRetailing it was “the right choice to make”. She went on to reassured retailers that: “We have a plan to ensure that the scratchcard category continues to be a core part of our growth.

“We’ve got some really exciting developments in terms of payment ranges and more specific category management based on an individual retailer’s outlet, we believe we can optimise and grow sales.”

A special draw celebrating the National Lottery’s 25th birthday on 23 November will include a £25million ‘birthday jackpot’ Blogg said would deliver “Great chatter, great footfall and excitement in retail.”

Read more: Big investment, more games and a National Lottery focus: betterRetailing profiles Camelot’s Duncan Malyon