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Passion for leisure

A view of the UK leisure consumer – Q3 2018

As the summer has drawn to a close, the weather is not the only thing that has cooled down: Consumer confidence has declined three points between the second and third quarter of 2018.

Yet, consumers remain as confident as they were this time last year, leaving leisure spending also on par with levels seen a year ago.

Key findings

Q3 2018 at a glance:

  • Consumer confidence and leisure spending have both dipped this quarter; the biggest contributor to the former being a negative consumer sentiment around debt and disposable income, which may explain the latter. Both, though, are in line with Q3 last year. 
  • Net spending has fallen in eight out of 11 leisure categories since Q2, with seasonality seemingly playing a large part. Activities like eating out and drinking in pubs and bars have seen the sharpest decline.
  • Despite the negative quarterly trend, leisure spending is still up in most categories compared to last year. One disparity was in consumer age: 18-34s are prioritising everyday leisure, whilst over-55s show a preference for big-ticket items such as holidays.
  • After an enjoyable summer, consumers expect to spend less in the majority of leisure categories in Q4 2018. 
  • Consumers are showing modest intentions to indulge in festive meals out in the winter months, with intended spending on eating out down 4 points on last year. The restaurant sector may need to find ways to draw in customers from the cold.

The trend towards fluctuating leisure spending suggests that the previously resilient consumer is gradually becoming more aware of the uncertainty around them. Therefore leisure consumer behaviour in Q4 and beyond is one to watch.

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