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Measuring the Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s Leisure and Sport during the 2020 Lockdown


  • Themis Kokolakakis

    (Sport Industry Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield S1 1WB, UK)

  • Fernando Lera-Lopez

    (Department of Economics, Public University of Navarra, 31006 Pamplona, Spain)

  • Girish Ramchandani

    (Sport Industry Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield S1 1WB, UK)


This research evaluates the effect of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic on sport Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and consumer expenditure in the leisure sector in the United Kingdom (UK). The leisure sector is divided into leisure at home and away from home, examining in this way the different patterns that emerged because of the national lockdown in 2020. The effect on sport GDP is examined using the Office for National Statistics (ONS) surveys and the UK Sport Satellite Account (SSA). The study found that, because of its reliance on human contact, sport GDP is likely to decline by more than twice the rate of the overall economy. Furthermore, this finding is consistent with the 2020 consumer expenditure on leisure that shows increases in spending on home leisure but also a huge decline in spending on out-of-home entertainment. The decline in GDP is extremely likely to put pressure on profit margins and hence threaten the survival of private enterprises, raising issues of sustainability under conditions of a pandemic. Increases in long-term public funding for reducing sport inequalities should be considered along with short-term relief packages for the sport sector. Additional policy suggestions are offered to address these issues.

Suggested Citation

  • Themis Kokolakakis & Fernando Lera-Lopez & Girish Ramchandani, 2021. "Measuring the Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s Leisure and Sport during the 2020 Lockdown," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(24), pages 1-15, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:13:y:2021:i:24:p:13865-:d:703091

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carlin, Patrick R. & Minard, Paul & Simon, Daniel H. & Wing, Coady, 2021. "Effects of large gatherings on the COVID-19 epidemic: Evidence from professional and college sports," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 43(C).
    2. Carl Singleton & Alex Bryson & Peter Dolton & J. James Reade & Dominik Schreyer, 2021. "What Can We Learn About Economics from Sport during Covid-19?," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2021-01, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
    3. Alex Bryson & Peter Dolton & J. James Reade & Dominik Schreyer & Carl Singleton, 2021. "What we can learn about economics from professional sport during Covid-19," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 525, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    4. World Bank, 2020. "Global Economic Prospects, June 2020," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 33748, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Qingwen Li & Guangxi Yan & Chengming Yu, 2022. "A Novel Multi-Factor Three-Step Feature Selection and Deep Learning Framework for Regional GDP Prediction: Evidence from China," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(8), pages 1-21, April.

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