The Society of London Theatre’s 2012 Box Office figures, published today (29 January 2013), show that despite unique factors affecting theatregoing in 2012, its members’ combined Box Office remained robust, with both ticket revenue and attendance figures slightly up compared to 2011.

Gross sales of £529,787,692 were up 0.27% and attendances also increased 0.56% to 13,992,773 year on-year. In addition, London theatre ticket sales generated VAT receipts for the Treasury of £88,297,949 again an increase on 2011.

SOLT has already confirmed that the Olympics had a dampening effect on London theatre sales, partly due to venues closing on the night of the opening ceremony and planning schedules around the Games resulting in fewer performances overall during August. But even with the disruptions of the Olympics, more tickets were sold for the first week of the games than were sold, for example, during the week of the 2011 Royal Wedding.

Whilst sales and attendances did drop during the summer Olympic weeks, the overall growth during 2012 can be attributed to a very strong first half of the year and good sales during the autumn weeks. Advance sales grew considerably throughout the final quarter showing huge audience confidence in the current productions and anticipation for the new shows that are to open in 2013.

Sales were boosted by several London theatres welcoming major new productions in 2012 such as Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre, Sweeney Todd and The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre, and the start of the Michael Grandage season at the Noël Coward. There was also continued success for West End transfers like One Man, Two Guvnors and Matilda The Musical.

Plays have had a particularly strong year with the audiences for 2012 up 9% on the previous year. There have been queues around the block to see Nick Payne’s Constellations at the Duke of York’s Theatre, and Mark Rylance has again proved a big draw in both Richard III and Twelfth Night at the Apollo Theatre.

Mark Rubinstein, President of the Society of London Theatre, said: “I am delighted that for the 9th year running we are able to report year-on-year growth in ticket income for London Theatres. It is particularly astonishing that we are able to report increasing sales – of over half a billion pounds – for a year that we always knew would have exceptional challenges. Against the background of a tough economic climate, London theatre continues to buck the trend, offering dazzling, world-class entertainment, which has audiences from both home and abroad flocking to the West End to catch exciting new productions as well as much-loved long running favourites. With the combined box office advance sales breaking new records we are looking forward to another year of success stories for our theatres.”

Release issue by: Society of London Theatre press office