Racegoers set to splurge this Melbourne Cup Carnival

10 October, 2013

As Australians gear up for the race that stops the nation, business information analysts at IBISWorld forecast that higher consumer sentiment will lift Melbourne Cup Carnival spending by 3.5 per cent this year to $455.5 million.

According to IBISWorld general manager (Australia) Karen Dobie, betting by attendees is expected to grow by 12.4 per cent to total $68.1 million this year, with food and beverage spending increasing by 3.3 per cent on the previous year to $167.9 million.

"Total expenditure equates to about $1,287 for each separate visit to the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival this year," Dobie said.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival is expected to attract 354,000 visits over the four days of festivities, representing a 0.8 per cent increase on last year. Interstate visitors are forecast to account for 18.0 per cent of visits, while international visitors will account for about 3.5 per cent.

"The warm spring weather, coupled with high consumer confidence, is expected to drive domestic attendance, while the falling Australia dollar is expected to boost international visits", said Dobie.

Melbourne Cup Carnival spending

Spending categories


($ million)


($ million)











Fashion and beauty




Food and beverages








Food and beverages flow

IBISWorld expects that higher attendance at the track, alongside the continuing popularity of Melbourne Cup events around the country, will drive a 3.3 per cent increase in food and beverage spending this year to $167.9 million.

"On 5 November, private and corporate functions will take place all over Australia in anticipation of the race that stops the nation. Workplaces, bars, clubs, restaurants and private homes are all expected to splurge on a smorgasbord of food and beverages to celebrate," Dobie said.

Place your bets

While betting by event attendees is expected to total $68.1 million, overall betting on the Melbourne Cup Carnival is forecast to reach $806 million, an increase of 7.4 per cent on the previous year.

"This year, IBISWorld anticipates that 35 per cent of Melbourne Cup Carnival betting will occur over the internet or on smartphones – as more people attempt to avoid TAB and bookmaker queues by logging onto online betting applications," Dobie said.

"The percentage of Australians using technology for gambling – in particular for sports betting –  has risen significantly over the past few years, and IBISWorld estimates that the internet and smartphones will account for 32 per cent of national gambling expenditure in 2013-14."

Travelling trackside

While IBISWorld forecasts that attendance numbers will increase slightly from 2012, Dobie said that continued discounting of flights and accommodation by tourism industry players will lead to a drop in tourism expenditure, which is forecast to contract by 2.5 per cent.

"Derby Day and Cup Day are likely to continue to be the two most popular days of the four-day carnival that attracts both racing enthusiasts and fashion lovers, with the two days generating about 100,000 visits each," Dobie said.

Forking out on fashion

Last year, many race-day attendees accessorised existing wardrobe items to reduce costs. This year, IBISWorld expects fashion and beauty to be the fastest growing spending segment – with growth fuelled by higher consumer confidence and rising fashion-consciousness among racegoers, especially men.

"A key factor driving fashion expenditure this year is the greater publicity of fashion and social events staged as part of the Carnival celebrations," said Dobie said.

"While women still make up the bulk of expenditure on hair and beauty, men's fashion expenditure is anticipated to rise at a faster pace this year, as it grows off a lower base.

"Men are likely to spend more money on fewer items, such as big-ticket designer blazers and trousers, while women are likely to purchase more than one outfit for the Carnival and a larger number of accessories, such as hats, jewellery and handbags," Dobie added.