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UK consumer spending on entertainment, Q4 2014

This sector report appears in Where’s Britain Spending? – a quarterly report from Barclaycard on consumer spending in the UK. To read the full report, please use the download link below.

04 Feb 2015 09:00

As their personal financial confidence increases, we would expect to see greater numbers of consumers going out and spending on entertainment and fine dining. In the fourth quarter of 2014, we saw spending on entertainment rising overall, with a significant increase in October and November followed by slower growth in December.

If we look at spending figures in restaurants during the fourth quarter, indicators suggest people are spending their money more confidently. Year-on-year, there were significant increases for each month of this quarter. While there were also increases in spend in this category earlier in 2014, the percentages were generally lower.

As the average transaction value for restaurants this quarter is down -6.2% year-on-year, this suggests that people are going to restaurants more often but spending modestly each time. This could be because eating out is becoming more commonplace, and therefore less of a rare treat, than it was earlier in the year.

Our confidence survey finds further evidence of this trend, with 23% expecting to spend more on entertainment in the next three months. In particular, consumers said they were expecting to spend more in the cinema/theatre (up to 18% from 15%) and at restaurants (up to 25% from 19%).

People are much more aware of standards – quality of food and service – and I think that’s where you’ve got to be on your game, all the time. This is where customers have become much more aware and educated.

Paul May, CEO, Patisserie Valerie

The unseasonably warm weather in early autumn may also have encouraged people to go out more in the evening. “We are weather-dependent in our industry,” explains Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association. “In years that we had terrific snowfalls, it affected people going to pubs. In October this year, the weather was consistently good and that helps pubs. People are more likely to go out to the pub if there is good weather.”

Ms Simmonds points to other drivers of stronger performance in pubs, which reflect the British consumer’s growing preference for value. “There is a bit more money in people’s pockets but we haven’t seen wages rising all that much, so people are looking for value, which pubs provide,” she says. “That works well for pubs. We serve more meals than the restaurant sector.”

Curiously, however, spending in pubs dropped sharply in December 2014, at a time when it might be expected to rise due to people socialising more in the run-up to Christmas.

In January 2015, pub group JD Wetherspoon reported that its pub sales had gone flat over Christmas, which the group largely attributed to supermarkets selling alcohol cheaply. Rival chain Greene King also reported that its sales were flat, which it said may have been partly caused by falling consumption in Scotland following the introduction of a lower drink-driving limit.

Oct 14

Nov 14

Dec 14

Cinema, theatre and dance




Public houses








Entertainment overall




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