2022 licence sales are down on 2021 figures almost across the board but, despite economic pressures on pastimes, junior licences are up 9%.
The latest licence figures released by the Environment Agency show a decline in licence sales of around 6-7% compared with 2021 figures.
Tracking from 1st January 2022, licences were initially way behind 2021 levels but closed rapidly to be on a par with 2021 by April. From that point, 2022 sales continued to track a few percentage points below 2021 figures, peaking at around 7% down. Figures for September showed a slightly reduced gap at 6.75% down helping to ally fears of a drop off so far.
It is easy to read too much negativity into these figures. After the Covid induced gains of 2020 and 2021 there was always going to be an increased level of competition for peoples free time as the pandemic passed, but what of the resulting figures?
We cannot ignore the effects of a severe cost of living increase. This factor must be having an impact on all sectors of the leisure and pastimes industry. We might expect that the more expensive full licences are down, and they are with two rod more affected than three, but one day and eight-day licences have been much more resilient, suggesting some anglers are making do with a few day trips.
Under current economic circumstances, it is difficult to predict the impact that the work of ATA and others has had on recruitment and retention, but we do know that junior licence sales are up despite external factors. Up too are senior three-rod and, more interestingly, senior eight-day licences. Are more senior anglers reconnecting with the sport to take juniors or because of Mortimer and Whitehouse?
Licencing data is vitally important in understanding angling trends. ATA will continue to press the Environment Agency for further analyse of its figures so that we can combine them with those being generated by the new TAFF we site. This data will allow us to better understand the high levels of licence churn currently being experienced, so that we can work to retain more anglers year on year.