Leisure Spending Boosted By More Confident Consumers

DiningSpending on leisure activities in Q2 2018 increased on both a year-on-year and quarterly basis, according to the latest findings from Deloitte’s Leisure Consumer Q2 2018 report.

Driven by record levels of consumer confidence, the quarterly survey of 3,166 UK adults revealed a three percentage point growth in leisure spending compared to the same period in 2017, and a two percentage point rise from the previous quarter.

Consumers reported increasing their leisure spending in nine out of 11 categories compared to the same period in 2017, with spending on eating out rising by five percentage points in the last year. Short break holidays was the only category that saw a fall in spending year-on-year (down two percentage points), while spending on live sport attendances remained flat from Q2 2017.

Habitual leisure activities have also seen a rise in spending, with drinking in pubs/bars seeing a year-on-year increase of four percentage points. Similarly, spending in coffee shops/sandwich shops has seen a three percentage point gain compared to Q2 2017.

On a quarterly basis, spending on culture and entertainment saw the largest increase, rising by five percentage points as consumers capitalised on the sunny weather in Q2. The quarterly jump in spending was also partly in reaction to the prolonged cold winter weather in spring, as well as being boosted by the feel-good factor from major events, such as the royal wedding.

Simon Oaten, partner for hospitality and leisure at Deloitte, comments: “Leisure spending is an important bellwether for the health of the UK economy. If consumers are spending on discretionary leisure items, whether that be cappuccinos or holidays, then that is a clear sign confidence in personal disposable income. It has been a challenging first half of the year for the sector, with a number of businesses, particularly in the casual dining sector, having to make bold strategic decisions. Nevertheless, the fact that leisure consumers are in good spirits is welcome news.

“Crucially, more habitual categories such as eating out and drinking in pubs and bars have seen a spending boost, a further sign of easing income pressure and improving consumer confidence.”

Leisure consumer walking on summer sunshine

The research showed that over the next three months, UK consumers said they expect to increase their spending in ten out of 11 categories compared to the previous year. Spending on going to the gym and playing sport is expected to increase by three percentage points year-on-year, aided by the summer weather.

Spending on betting and gaming is also set to grow over the next three months, rising three percentage points compared to the same period last year. This increase is likely to have been driven by consumers’ anticipation ahead of the football World Cup, which may also be the cause for the one percentage point rise in spending on in-home leisure, as football fans choose to support the national side through a combination of in- and out-of-home socialising.

Oaten adds: “The positive leisure consumer outlook is in contrast with news about the struggling high street and political uncertainty.  However, leisure businesses should feel optimistic about the growing confidence and the spending intensions of the leisure consumers, and will need to ensure they make the most of this feel-good factor.

“Significantly, our research has revealed that consumers are looking to spend across a broad range of leisure categories.  This means that businesses from across the leisure sector should be able to benefit from the current mood, whether you’re a holiday operator, café, hotel, theatre or sports venue. In order to capitalise on this more confident market, leisure businesses need to ensure they continue to meet the needs for experience-seeking consumers.”