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Leisure spending, Q1 2015: Consumers feel they've been holding back too long on having fun

Tue Apr 14 00:00:00 EDT 2015

As consumers’ spending confidence grows, they are likely to go on more days out to catch up with friends and family. Over one quarter (27 per cent) say they will visit more amusement parks, museums and aquariums during the next quarter. In line with the rise in non-essential spending in many categories elsewhere, 24 per cent say they ‘have been cautious for a long time’ and want to treat themselves for a change. 

Our consumer confidence survey also suggests that consumers are looking to eat out more. We have already seen steady increases in spending in restaurants over the last year, reaching 17 per cent growth year-on-year in Q1 2015. Looking ahead, one quarter (24 per cent) of consumers say they plan to visit more restaurants in the next three months. 

Yet consumers, while preparing to spend more overall in restaurants, are not becoming reckless in their eating habits. Over one third (36 per cent) never go to fine-dining restaurants. Instead, British consumers are increasingly likely to eat out in a pub. Two fifths (40 per cent) say they eat in pubs at least once a month.

Howard Archer of IHS Economics says people eat out when they feel richer. “When people feel better off, they are more prepared to go out to restaurants,” he says. “The fall in petrol prices and muted food prices will give them a bit more discretionary income.” 

Landlord companies have invested £400 million in pubs over the last couple of years to improve their attractiveness to consumers. For drink, it’s about providing a high quality range of beers (mainstream, world and craft) and real ales, as well as a quality choice in wines, spirits and soft drinks. For food it’s become ‘everyday’ as opposed to ‘special-occasion’ eating out. 

Andy Slee, External Affairs and Central Operations Director at Punch Taverns