Industry avoids being short changed on a long weekend

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The May Bank Holiday brought more good news for UK operators despite it being so close on the heels of Easter.


You don’t need to be a seasoned expert on arcades to assume that good weather and bank holidays are universally welcomed by operators. And for Michael Mason, owner of Masons Amusements in Blackpool, good weather plays a big part in his business.

“Weather has a big effect on us and Monday’s business was decent because we have lovely weather on the Blackpool coast,” Mason said of the May Day bank holiday weekend.

But having a bank holiday weekend a mere two weeks after the last did not mean an another rise in visits.

“Overall, the May Day bank holiday weekend wasn’t spectacular, what with it being so soon after the Easter one. Some people were just not bothered about going away over the weekend.”

And while good weather benefitted Masons Amusements, bad weather actually helped other operators in other parts of the UK. Henry Danter, owner of Treasure Islands in Barry Island in Wales, said of his bank holiday weekend trade: “The weather wasn’t great so that really brought people into the arcade. The machines were definitely very popular.”

Another operator who doesn’t necessarily do well from good weather is Kevin Birch, the owner of Players Amusements in Walsall.

“We haven’t seen figures yet for the most recent bank holiday. The weather was good but that usually means bad news, as people divert to the coast and make barbecues,” he said.

And in an industry that relies on bank holidays for idle Brits to try their luck in arcades, Birch said he is considering closing during these long weekends.

“One of our sites is also based in a shopping precinct, which limits our opening hours and generally means less customers on bank holidays.”

One thing these different operators agree on, however, is how successful the industry has been in the past year.

“Business has been great recently, we saw a real upturn in the last four or five months of 2016,” Birch said. “The industry took a big hit following the new gambling rules and the smoking ban. But recently, more people are coming into our sites and staying longer at the machines.”

Back in Blackpool, Mason also spoke about a successful year. “Last year was pretty good for us, so if we beat it this year, I’ll be delighted. We’ve definitely seen a return on our investments from over the years. We’ve absolutely minted the building outside, so it looks beautiful now.

“We’ve also paid more attention to the quality of stuff that’s up for grabs – the swag. It’s worth paying more money, no question about that.”

Along with reinvestment, Mason also talked up how Brexit has persuaded Brits to take more day trips within the country during the long bank holiday weekends.

In fact, domestic tourism has seen an increase of nine percent since the Brexit result and the subsequent fall in the pound’s value.

“Brexit is definitely a benefit to the industry. While it may not be accepted as generally good, we’re getting a lot more families coming in than before.”

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