The booming event sector could rejuvenate the struggling High Street, says a ground-breaking report by Access All Areas, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and We Are The Fair.

As efforts to create a 24-hour economy gain traction, the events industry is providing stimulus for service sector retailers that thrive wherever there are crowds, be they at festivals or on the high street.

The Political Economy of Informal Events, 2030 details a ‘festivalisation’ of the High Street with the rise of pop-up clusters of street food outlets that provide popular and trendy alternative dining options. Dinerama in Shoreditch and Kerb Camden are cited among the examples of festival-like gatherings that boost local retailers, even prompting a dedicated British Street Food Awards.

As well as SME retail businesses, major retailers including Co-Op and Nando’s and have invested in festival-based outlets, helping boost the festival sector – which was worth £5bn to UK Plc last year.

Despite this growing movement, many food businesses and retailers have complained about restrictions on closing times, which hamper the potential to create a 24-hour event environment.

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, lends his expertise to the report. “When our High Streets are struggling, the night-time economy has an important role to play in diversifying our town and city centres,” he reported. “We’re committed to making Greater Manchester’s night-time economy inclusive, diverse, safe and accessible – for all our residents and visitors. Events happen both day and night and we know that the night-time economy is the fifth largest industry in the UK. It’s vital to Greater Manchester’s economy. That is why I appointed a night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester.”

Dr David Lutton, executive director, Economy and Tax at business campaigners London First also contributed exclusively to The Political Economy of Informal Events, 2030. He said: “Night events don’t boost just demand for transport. As amenities, they […] increase revenues for retail and hospitality firms that are open around local transport nodes at night. So for 2030 we need to be thinking about how nightlife, housing, the High Street and hospitality can work together to make a stronger, more successful 24-hour economy – good sleep for residents included! And we need a planning and licensing framework that supports that.

He added: “Unfortunately, many boroughs still see nightlife as a problem to be managed, rather than an opportunity. But let’s remember: more people on the street at night because of vibrant nightlife can be safer than an empty street.”

The report examines GVA growth by jobs, citing growth in music, performing arts and visual arts, where GVA rose by 68.6 per cent in 2010-17, creating a staggering 32.5 per cent increase in jobs.

The events revolution has seen UK festival numbers swell from a handful in the 90s to more than 2,850 last year, netting more than £5bn for UK Plc. Despite this, negative media coverage has warped public and institutional perceptions.

The Political Economy of Informal Events, 2030 debunks common myths about event-related crime, and outlines emerging growth areas for retail on both a micro and macro level. The results present a strong case for promoting the medium of events to local authorities and planners.

The findings from the report will be discussed by its authors on the Main Stage at the Event Production Show at 10am on 26 February, Olympia London. The report’s publisher and commissioner Mash Media will be represented on the panel by Julian Agostini (MD, Mash Media), who will be joined by Alan D Miller, (chairman, The Night Time Industries Association) Nick Morgan (CEO, We are the Fair) Kaya Comer-Schwartz from Islington Council.

The Political Economy of Informal Events, 2030 was commissioned and published by Mash Media. Foreword by: Julian Agostini, (MD, Mash Media), Alan D Miller, (chairman, The Night Time Industries Association) Nick Morgan (CEO, We Are The Fair). It was written and edited by James Woudhuysen, visiting professor, forecasting & innovation, London South Bank University.

The report will be available for £495.00 + VAT from   

You can hear more from the panel at 10am 26th February, Olympia London, at Event Production Show – register here