Press Release

Big Issue Group reports significant rise in vendor numbers as Cost-of-living Crisis bites

New figures have confirmed that, in 2022, Big Issue Group (BIG) worked with 3,642 vendors and sawa 10% YOY increase in the number of people selling the magazine.2022 saw 899 individuals sign-up to become a vendor and sell the Big Issue magazine for the first time.

Big Issue Vendor, Lawrence. Image Credit: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Big Issue Vendor, Lawrence. Image Credit: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

  • Organisation saw an 10% YOY increase of vendor numbers due to the Cost-of-living crisis, with 69% of new vendors saying they were selling the magazine as their main source or an additional source of income
  • New figures show a 34% YOY increase in sales and 38% YOY increase in vendor earnings
  • Organisation continues to innovate with further ventures to support vendors to be more financially and digitally included and into employment
  • First Big Issue National Vendor Week runs from Monday 6th March- Sunday 12th March

Today (Monday 6th March) the Big Issue Group has announced a notable rise in vendor numbers as the Cost-of-living crisis bites.

New figures have confirmed that, in 2022, Big Issue Group (BIG) worked with 3,642 vendors and sawa 10% YOY increase in the number of people selling the magazine.2022 saw 899 individuals sign-up to become a vendor and sell the Big Issue magazine for the first time.

69% of new vendors stated they were selling the magazine as their main source of income or as an additional income source. A further 10% wanted to use the Big Issue as a springboard to find full-time employment.

The economic landscape has indisputably had an impact on the numbers of people needing to turn to selling the magazine to make ends meet. There are 14m people in the UK living in poverty, rent and energy prices continue to soar, and food prices are rising at the highest rate in 45 years ([1]). 9.7 million adults are experiencing food insecurity ([2]) this year, 7.2m people are going without basics and 4.7m people in the UK are now behind on their bills (3). 1.7 million people in the UK are now facing financial destitution, or even worse, homelessness ([3]). There are currently 282,000 households classed as homeless or facing homelessness, ([4]).

In 2022, BIG worked with 3,577 vendors, who sold 2.2 million magazines in 2022. These sales saw Big Issue vendors earn a collective profit of £3.76 million.

BIG said it had seen a 34% YOY increase in sales and 38% YOY increase in vendor earnings, despite the ongoing Cost-of-living crisis.

The organisation attributes the strong sales figures to its bolstered support of its vendor network, ensuring sellers are able to sell as many copies of the magazine as possible, enabling vendors to have access to support services, as well as opportunities to move into more permanent forms of employment. 

Throughout 2022, 404 vendors were supported by Frontline teams to accept contactless payments, 221 vendors were provided with access to Zettle card readers and 205 smartphones. This means that since our Financial & Digital Inclusion support work started in 2019, 1,319 vendors have been supported to accept cashless payments.

Up to 50% of Big Issue vendors in an average week are now able to accept cashless payments. The data shows that vendors who have contactless technology are able to sell five extra magazines per week. 52% of vendors said that they felt more digitally confident since going cashless.

BIG has also innovated with further ventures to support vendors get into employment. Big Issue Recruit is a person-centred recruitment service, dedicated to supporting people, including existing Big Issue vendors, who face barriers into sustainable employment. Job Coaches provide one-to-one dedicated free pre and in-post employment support to candidates.

Mark Richards, a Big Issue vendor turned BIR candidate from Cardiff, said: “If it wasn’t for Big Issue Recruit I would either be in prison or six feet under the ground. They are helping me to learn new skills, gain work experience and get ready for job interviews. I’m hoping that with their help I will be able to get into full time employment in either hospitality or as a Warehouse Assistant and I am excited about making this happen with their support.”

The organisation has called for public support as it marks its first-ever Big Issue’s National Vendor Week to celebrate enterprising vendors, their lives and work. The week will see a special edition of the magazine full of vendors’ personal stories, a series of celebrities support vendors by selling the magazine and culminate in a reception at the House of Lords to celebrate the vendor community.

Lord Bird, Founder of the Big Issue, said: “As we celebrate Big Issue National Vendor Week, we are very aware that, right now our work is needed more than ever with spiralling living costs, and continuing increases in poverty and hardship. The Cost-of-living crisis has hit those at the very coalface of poverty the hardest.

“More people have turned to selling the Big Issue given the dire set of circumstances they are facing.  The good news is that our vendors are earning more and this income, as well as the wrap-around support we offer, is particularly important in these testing times.

“If you would like to support Big Issue vendors, you can buy this week’s special edition from your local vendor. If you can’t get to your local vendor, you can support them instead with a vendor subscription by visiting our vendor map on our website. Each annual subscription earns a vendor £50.

“Or, if you are thinking of selling the Big Issue, visit www.bigissue.com/become-a-vendor/ for more information.”

The special edition of the Big Issue is out now, please buy a copy from your local vendor or you can support with a vendor subscription by visiting our vendor map here: www.bigissue.com/vendors/.

If you are thinking of selling the Big Issue, visit www.bigissue.com/become-a-vendor/ for more information.


1 https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/consumerpriceinflation/october2022

[2] https://www.foodfoundation.org.uk/news/food-prices-tracking-october-update

3.https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/going-under-and-without-jrfs-cost-living-tracker-winter-202223

4. https://www.crisis.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/cost-of-living-crisis-threatens-homelessness-surge-with-the-lowest-income-households-spending-133-of-their-monthly-income-on-rent-energy-and-bills/

5. https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/homelessness-knowledge-hub/homelessness-monitor/england/the-homelessness-monitor-england-2022/

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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