Data Shows Early Signs Of Growth For Leisure & Entertainment As England Celebrates Reduced Lockdown Measures

New data from Barclaycard payments shines a light on the economic impact of the recent changes to social distancing, which came into force on 29 March, allowing outdoor gatherings and the reopening of outdoor sports facilities.

The changes are already having an impact on Leisure & Entertainment – face-to-face spend across the sector was up 136 per cent last week, with many of us eager to return to sanctioned sport at the earliest possible opportunity. Golf courses showed a particularly strong rebound – in-person spend was up 370 per cent compared to the previous week, and total spend was up 190 per cent.

People in England can also attend outdoor gatherings of up to six people or two households, which, coupled with the brighter spring weather, has caused a spike in local travel – overall travel and petrol spend were both up 7 per cent, with friends and family reuniting for the first time in 2021.

The boom in outdoor gatherings is also the likely reason why Barclaycard Payments recorded a 9 per cent rise in contactless transactions over the past week, with more people using ‘tap and go’ as a convenient and safe way to pay for their picnic en route.

However, the ongoing social distancing measures are still having a significant affect – the total value of transactions across Leisure & Entertainment was still down 35 per cent compared to the same week two years ago, before the onset of the pandemic.

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments, said: “This is a strong indication of the pent-up demand for returning to pre-pandemic activities, like seeing friends and family and enjoying outdoor sport. We hope that businesses will maintain this momentum as they approach the next major milestone – the reopening of non-essential retail next week.”