A survey of 3,000 consumers by Deloitte found that 95 per cent had spent money on leisure activities in the first quarter of 2016, with 85 per cent saying that they had spent on eating out. This put it ahead of spend on other leisure activities, such as in-home film streaming.
However, while Deloitte said that the outlook for the £117bn leisure sector was positive, the result of the EU referendum – Brexit – had led to uncertainty, which could have an impact where consumers’ discretionary spending is concerned.
In uncertain times, consumers were most likely to reduce spend on leisure activities such as betting and gaming (45 per cent), eating out (39 per cent), and drinking out (38 per cent), the report said.
Despite this, eating out spend put it as the most popular activity, as leisure spend has grown at a faster pace than total consumer expenditure, with the leisure market as a whole growing nearly twice as fast as the retail sector, Deloitte said.
Businesses that combined leisure with retail – such as cafés and restaurants – were particularly strong, it suggested.
Overall, traditional leisure spend was also still high – on activities such as holidays, theatre trips, and bowling – while other areas, such as gym memberships, music and video streaming, were on the up. Over three quarters (77 per cent) said they had spent money on in-home leisure, such as streaming media services for TV, films, music and games.
Simon Oaten, partner for hospitality and leisure at Deloitte, comments: “In order to spend on leisure, consumers need sufficient disposable income to justify spending on non-essential activities. For this reason, the behaviour of the leisure consumer is essential to understanding the prospects for the UK economy.
“Our analysis has found that we are witnessing an evolution in the mind-set of the leisure consumer; a behavioural shift from product-consumption to experience-consumption. Healthy high streets are those that have retail stores interspersed with leisure, such as cafés and restaurants that attract footfall.”