Commuters contribute £22.8bn to the UK economy per year, research shows

Average weekly spend of UK commuter is £89, amounting to 14% of annual online sales

Nike Digital Ribbons on London Underground

A major report into commuters’ spending habits, conducted by leading Out-of-Home (OOH) media agency Kinetic and OOH media owner Exterion Media, in partnership with the Centre for Business and Economics Research (Cebr), has revealed that the value of commuter commerce to the UK economy is £22.8 billion per year. In total, this amounts to 14% of annual online spending in the UK.

Spend calculated in this latest report includes both products and services purchased via mobile whilst on the move, ranging from clothing to insurance. Across the UK, the typical weekly spend for commuters amounts to £89, rising to £153 a week for commuters in London. Nearly half (43%) of commuters nationally said they made a purchase whilst commuting at least four times a month.

In all regions surveyed, clothing was the most popular purchase, with 76% of those surveyed saying they’d purchased clothes in the past year. This was followed closely by purchases in health and beauty (71%), activities (69%), and grocery shopping (65%).

The research also uncovered that 70% of commuters have made a purchase as a result of advertising seen on their journeys. Commuters responded (23% based in London, 18% rest of the UK) that outdoor advertising seen on their commute often reminded them to shop, proving the power of OOH advertising as a significant driving force behind purchases. It also highlights the link between online and offline commerce facilitated by smartphones.

Stuart Taylor, CEO of Kinetic, said,
“Our research shows that in today’s age of time-poor consumers, the everyday commute is fast becoming a valuable opportunity to make purchases. At a time when footfall is declining on our high streets, these findings confirm that retailers can nevertheless reach a valuable urban audience in a physical environment. With Out-of-Home advertising acting as the link between online and offline retail and reaching 98% of consumers nationally, it’s an opportunity that retailers cannot afford to ignore. Moreover, advancements in OOH technology mean that brands can serve commuters with dynamic creative based on environmental factors such as weather, location and time of day – remaining hyper-relevant even when “offline” and out of store.”

Nigel Clarkson, Chief Revenue Officer at Exterion Media, added, “Commuters are the lifeblood of the UK, and hugely important to the economy, businesses and advertisers; they keep our nation moving and growing, as they travel. Our research proves the commercial impact of the Commuter Economy, through the billions contributed to online retail annually. Driving this, OOH advertising clearly acts as an inspiration, direction and drive towards action; people like it, they engage with it, and buy because of it. The shift away from physical sales has made online purchasing and payment so prevalent, and we know that OOH ads can drive product search and purchase within seconds of adverts being seen. This means that pretty much every OOH advert – whether a classic poster ad or a video on a digital screen - has become a point-of-sale opportunity for brands. We have always known that OOH drives great brand awareness, now this study shows that it is also best placed to drive performance.”

Conducted by leading Out-of-Home UK companies Kinetic and Exterion Media, in partnership with Cebr, the report draws on data from a survey of 1,500 frequent commuters who own smartphones, defined as commuting to and from work, college or university at least three days per week. The report focuses on commuters who use public transport, which also includes travel via minibus and coach.

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