Six months on, where are the gaps in the UK market?

UK regions mapSix months ago, this site analysed the gaps in the UK market at the time. While this site does not intend to rotate all its content on a twice-a-year basis, this issue is worth revisiting from time to time. Besides, the market is about twice as big now as it was then, so a great many things have changed. (The graphic is much better than the one used then, by virtue of things like getting the Northern Irish border closer.)

It’s possible that some of the first exit game room proprietors might have started business in the closest big city to where they happened to already live. However, if you had a choice as to where to set up business, where are the most obvious gaps in the market? Alternatively, where might people expect to see exit rooms coming soon? In late 2014, now that some of the most successful operations have started second locations in different towns, where remains up for grabs?

The Brookings Institution analysed 300 of the largest metropolitan economies in late 2012 and identified 15 of them as being in the UK. At time of writing, here are the 15 largest metropolitan economies in the UK, alongside the number of exit rooms featured in each one. If there’s a large metropolitan economy without an exit room, there’s arguably a gap in the market there.

1. London: four sites operating (HintHunt, clueQuest, Escape Land and Escape Rooms), four sites under construction (Enigma Escape, Escape Hunt, Lock and LOL and Quest Room)
2. Birmingham: one site operating (Keyhunter), one site under construction (Escape Live)
3. Manchester: two sites operating (Make A Break and Breakout Manchester), one site operating nearby (Clue HQ in Warrington), one site under construction nearby (Escape Quest in Macclesfield) and one site that seems never to have got past being under construction (Puzzlescape)
4. Leeds-Bradford: one site operating (Tick Tock Unlock)
5. Liverpool: no sites operating or under construction known – but one site operating nearby (Clue HQ in Warrington)
6. Glasgow: one site operating (Escape)
7. Nottingham-Derby: one site under construction (Logiclock)
8. Portsmouth-Southampton: no sites operating or under construction known
9. Bristol: one site operating (Puzzlair), one site operating again in 2015 (Cryptopia) and one site operating nearby (Bath Escape in Bath)
10. Newcastle: no sites operating or under construction known
11. Sheffield: no sites operating or under construction known
12. Cardiff-Newport: no sites operating or under construction known
13. Edinburgh: one site operating (Escape), one site under construction (Can You Escape?)
14. Leicester: one site temporarily closed (Cipher)
15. Brighton: two sites under construction (Brighton Escape Room and Live Escape Game)

For reference, while the list of metropolitan areas organised by economy size does not exactly match the list of metropolitan areas organised by population, the other existent sites operating are ESCAP3D and The Gr8 Escape in Belfast (13th by population) and Ex(c)iting Game in Oxford (33rd by population). For comparison, the Dublin metro area (where XIT and ESCAP3D are in operation) would come just below number three in the above list.

Six months ago, this pointed to Manchester, West Yorkshire and Glasgow being big gaps that have been filled extremely successfully over time. The updated data now points to Merseyside, the East Midlands, the South Coast, Tyneside, South Yorkshire and Wales as being the biggest gaps in the market at the moment. Perhaps filling two or three gaps every half-year might be a reasonable rate of progress to expect. The success of so many sites in London goes to show that the biggest areas can support more than one site, as well, so it’s tempting to wonder which markets are served but yet underserved, as well as the ones that are unserved at all.

This site still retains its hunch that seaside resorts might also prove successful markets, though Brighton has been plagued with two attempts, neither of which have yet got as far as opening – and might not ever do so. As a sentimental favourite, Blackpool still has bags of potential…

6 Comments

  1. It would be interesting to compare a list of top UK cities by numbers of tourists visiting (internal plus external). I think that would be a sounder basis for predicting escape room market size, rather than local population.

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