BETA survey shows impact of COVID-19 on equestrian sector

A new British Equestrian Trade Association survey has provided a snapshot of the UK’s equestrian sector in the wake of the global pandemic.

The survey set out to measure the impact of COVID-19 on riding and equestrian spending habits. It took place in December 2020 and January 2021, with 1,508 horse owners and riders providing input on their activities since the beginning of 2020.

The detailed survey, commissioned by BETA and carried out by JDA Research, revealed that online shopping has increased by 38%, highlighting an increased trend for “armchair” spending.

BETA has provided a snapshot of the UK’s equestrian sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

BETA has provided a snapshot of the UK’s equestrian sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

BETA executive director Claire Williams said that although affiliated and non-affiliated competition has been impacted, there was only a slight decrease in riding overall, which is expected to recover and return to pre-COVIS-19 levels. Meanwhile, there has been little change in horse ownership.

Ms Williams said: “It has been two years since the last BETA National Equestrian Survey was published and the world has had to contend with enormous challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic. The past 12 months has been incredibly tough for many of us in the equestrian sector, affecting riders, their horses and the industry.

“This new survey offers us a unique insight into the way in which the pandemic has affected our core activities of shopping for equestrian goods, riding and horse ownership – and helps us to shape our response for the future.”

Key findings on equestrian spending

  • 9% of those surveyed said they were spending more on equestrian goods; and
  • 21% said they were spending less or had stopped spending.

Increased spenders tended to be younger, with 23% of under-25s spending more – and on items associated with riding rather than on the upkeep of a horse, with 58% of them buying saddles and 35% investing in general rider clothing.

Older riders and horse owners (over-45s) were more cautious with their spending and only 5% of this age group were spending more, compared with 23% who were spending less or had stopped.

Top three items bought during the pandemic:

  • 58% bought equipment for horses such as saddles and rugs.
  • 35% bought rider clothing.
  • 34% bought horse feed.

Online spending showed significant changes, with 49% of riders and horse owners shopping online more than they did at the same time in 2019, and they were spending 38% more on average than they did before the pandemic. Two in three said they would continue with online purchasing in future.

Impact on riding
Competitive riding has been severely hit by Covid-19, with only 15% of riders taking part in affiliated events compared with 30% in a typical year. Despite this, six in 10 equestrians said they continued to ride the same as or more often than they did before the pandemic. Here are the key facts on riding behaviour:

  • 1 in 20 riders said they had stopped riding completely since March 2020.
  • Hacking remains the most common riding activity and the one least hit ,with only a 7% fall from 93% of riders participating in a typical year.
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