Leisure Sector Sees Spending Boost As Consumers Just Want To Have Fun

Dining–   Deloitte’s Leisure Consumer report reveals a two percentage point increase in UK leisure spending in Q4 2018 compared to previous year;

–   Consumers chose to spend on fun experiences in final three months of 2018;

–   Growing caution felt by leisure consumers as they look ahead to 2019.

Net spending in the UK leisure sector grew by two percentage points year-on-year in the final quarter of 2018, according to the latest findings from Deloitte’s Leisure Consumer Q4 2018 report.

The quarterly survey of 3,000 UK leisure consumers also found that consumer spending on experiences increased on a quarterly basis, rising by four percentage points from Q3 2018. The increase in leisure spending in Q4 comes despite overall consumer confidence falling to an 18-month low during the period.

Ending the year on a high

Year-on-year spending increased or remained stable in all 11 leisure categories measured. Eating out in restaurants and drinking in pubs and bars saw net spending increase by six and five percentage points respectively. Culture and entertainment, drinking in coffee shops and attending live sports events all saw net spending increase by two percentage points from Q4 2017.

Only two categories – in-home leisure and short break travel – saw spending remain the same compared to the previous year. Among respondents aged 18-34 years-old, net spending was positive in four leisure categories, including eating and drinking out, in-home leisure and betting and gaming.

Simon Oaten, partner for hospitality and leisure at Deloitte, commented: “Despite overall confidence falling for the second consecutive quarter, the wider economic picture is currently favourable for consumers. Falling inflation, high employment and rising wage growth has led to greater spending power. Having found themselves in the black, consumers chose to spend the balance on fun experiences, causing an uptick in overall leisure spending.”

Consumer caution likely for Q1 2019

In the first three months of 2019, UK consumers only expect to decrease their spending in five of the 11 leisure categories measured compared to Q1 2018. Consumers indicated that they may spend less on holidays in the next three months, down four percentage points year-on-year. In further signs of consumers planning to rein in their cash, the next three months will also see net spending decrease in betting and gaming, drinking in pubs and bars and short break travel.

Oaten added: “Some caution can be detected in consumers’ spending intentions for the first quarter of 2019. Interestingly, however, our research suggests that respondents may reduce spending on holidays, yet a number of travel companies have provided positive trading updates during the first weeks of 2019. While overall uncertainty might make consumers evaluate their spending on big ticket discretionary purchases more carefully, overall demand for holidays seems to be holding up.

“All in all, consumer demand for the leisure sector is likely to remain strong for the time being, particularly if 2019 continues to offer favourable conditions for consumers. This is a sector that continues to appeal to consumers’ enduring passion for creating memories through experiences and having fun.”