British consumers are spending less money in pubs and bars than at any time since lockdown ended, according to research by Deloitte.

The survey, which asked nearly 3,200 UK consumers if they had spent more, less or the same on leisure in the last three months, showed sentiment in “eating out” and “drinking in pubs and bars” had declined by around 6 percentage points from the previous quarter.

While an appetite for dining out dipped to levels seen at the end of 2022, pubs and bars recorded the lowest interest since reopening after the Covid pandemic.

“The cost of living crisis and the fact that things remain more expensive than they were a year or two years ago are impacting [consumer behaviours],” said Céline Fenech, consumer insight lead at Deloitte.

The findings come as consumers are broadly feeling more optimistic about spending overall.

Deloitte research published earlier this month found confidence reached a two-year high in the first quarter of 2024, supported by falling inflation and real pay growth.

“We are seeing signs of consumers easing their discretionary spending restrictions, but we are not seeing a splurge yet in leisure spending,” said Fenech, adding that the drop was partly due to the effects of big-spending events like Christmas which had dented budgets.

“There is no doubt that people are still trading off between spending on food at home and on going out,” she added.

Survey respondents were canvassed in mid March across 11 different leisure categories, with the results to be released by Deloitte this week. Sentiment for other activities, such as “attending live sports events”, “holidays, hotel stays and leisure travel” and “culture and entertainment” also dropped from the previous quarter but at a more modest rate.

Betting and gaming was the only leisure category to register an increase in interest.