Total hospitality and leisure spend has returned to positive territory while the number of closures across the sector reduced significantly compared to 2020, according to Savills.

Savills latest UK Leisure Spotlight report saw total leisure spend in August rise 6.4% above 2019 levels, as staycations and day trips supported substantial growth in the sector.

In spite of the gradual removal of the remaining government support packages, vacancy rates are expected to remain far below that of the retail market (11.8% compared with 16.5%), indicating comparatively robust levels of demand.

Savills reports that recovery within food and beverage (F&B) is particularly strong, with the takeaway and drive-thru sub-sectors growing rapidly.

Fast food takeaway was the fastest growing area of the market in the first half of the year, seeing a net growth of 333 units.

In addition, there have also been 56 new drive-thru openings so far this year, more than any other full year figure for each of the past five years, with demand for drive-thrus increasing by 25% since the pandemic began.

Pubs, bars and clubs also saw a return to sales growth in August, despite the issues surrounding staffing levels and the impact of the ‘pingdemic’.

Alan Spencer, head of UK retail at Savills, comments: “It’s no secret that the leisure sector has faced a series of challenges that we couldn’t have comprehended only two years ago. However, the market turned a corner over the summer and we’re now seeing requirements from operators across the entire sector, from traditional operators such as bars and restaurants to new competitive socialising concepts and immersive, interactive experiences.”

Sam Arrowsmith, research director at Savills, adds: “While we’re certainly beginning to see green shoots across the leisure market as a whole, the sectors leading the charge are those that showed the most resilience during the pandemic, with the convenience of drive-thrus and retail parks still holding strong. What we do expect to see though, is other areas of the market following suit. Cinema sales are growing steadily month by month and pubs and bars are reporting their strongest levels of sales since the onset of the pandemic.”