The first week of reopening has shown machine play reach 82 percent of pre lockdown levels. The figure is uncannily similar to last year’s pattern of return following the first 2020 lockdown. Simon Barff, MD of CLMS, talks us through the early trends.
They are only very early signs, but the May 17 reopening is showing initial trends for machine play in keeping with last year’s return from the July 2020 lockdown.
Machine analysis experts CLMS have been charting performance figures from thousands of gaming machines in the pub sector and the signals are encouraging, as MD Simon Barff explained: “We are uniquely placed within the industry to be able to view live data from over 12,000 gaming machines in the pub sector and according to the initial findings we are already seeing that players are returning to machines very much in line with the customers returning to the pubs.”
The levels of play are also showing a consistent pattern to last year, a trend that will be a huge relief to operators of gaming machines around the country. Barff once again noted the alignment with a year ago: “The update is very similar to where we were when we restarted in July 20. This year we’re up at around 82 percent of the play levels we were seeing pre lockdown.”
Delving deeper into the analysis CLMS has identified some of the prompts which are nudging the figures, notably the take up of machines being pulled back into action.
Barff again: “The positive on this is that we are seeing a higher initial level of the pre lockdown machines being switched back on. This is running at around an 80 percent starting point.”
And there’s more to this figure to probe into, notably a re-energised customer-base looking to get back to normal. Barff considered the proposition: “It’s an interesting sign. Within that upper rate of machines being switched back on, we’ve also identified a high number of requests for machines which were removed for the initial social distancing guidelines, to be replaced. That includes the non-gaming offer, especially pool and the kiddies play equipment, which are also making an impression.”
And this is a particular trend that will likely draw further attention from stakeholders, not just for their analytical sense, but for forecasts on player behaviour. “This data obviously makes for a more rounded and “normal” offer for our customers,” Barff observed.
So, does this mean the public has had enough of restrictions in pubs?
Barff was more circumspect, after all it was only the first week of reopening. But, he noted the playing public were far more in tune with the Covid requirements: “With social distancing measures in place in all sites, everyone seems to have a far better understanding of what this now means. We have all lived with this for long enough that we know what we need to do to take individual and joint responsibility for our safety.”
And with that, CLMS are forecasting a steady return in machine play rising to upwards of 90 percent of pre lockdown levels, recovery willing, by the height of the summer.