Growth in consumer spending was more prominent in eating out and drinking out (both up 11% versus January), compared with spend on ‘other leisure’ activities where, on average, spend increased by 1% versus January, according to the first Greene King Leisure Tracker.

The tracker found that out of the £203.40 of average household spend on total leisure during February, £73.24 (an 11% increase on January) was spent on eating out, against £42.29 that was spent on drinking out and £87.86 spent in other leisure activities (up 1% on January). (See top graph on the right)

The company found that total leisure spend grew in February versus January but remained below summer and autumn spend levels and 18% below the December peak. Average household spend on all leisure activity stood at £248.78 in December, with £55.13 on average spent on drinking out (unsurprisingly this was the highest level over the course of the last seven months).

Average household spend on eating out stood at £83.79 in December, which was only topped by the £88.76 spent during August. Spend on other leisure activities stood at its highest level in December at £109.86.

Steve Jebson, Greene King’s commercial director, said: “With the economy slowly improving we are confident that this will eventually filter down to the wallets and purses of consumers but we do not believe that is happening yet. This improvement is mainly due to increased family leisure spending during the half-term holidays and households feeling slightly less strapped for cash after their Christmas spending spree when spending peaked at £249.”

The report found that in a given month, the average household spends more than a third of its total leisure spend on eating out and more than a fifth on drinking out. It found that eating out’s share has increased slightly from a December low of 34% to 36% of leisure spend in February.

Jebson said: “We believe a fall in the prominence of drinking out in the leisure mix in January is reflective of ‘Dryathlons’ and a temporary shift in behaviour following over indulgence during the festive season.”

The research found that the leisure spend mix has remained largely consistent in all household types across December, January and February.

The report added: “Households in London and the South East have devoted considerably more of their leisure spend to eating out and considerably less share to other leisure activities in February compared with December and January. On average, households with kids spent a greater proportion of their total leisure spend on eating out and other leisure activities in February versus January while devoting less share to drinking out.”

Regional focus

In February, the tracker found that average household leisure spend was £37 higher in London and the South East (£228.62) than in the rest of the country (£191.98), a smaller difference between the regions than seen in both December and January.

Half-term contributed to a rise of 30% in leisure spend among households with kids in February (£238.76) versus January (£183.82). In contrast, the average household without kids marginally reduced total leisure spend in February (Jan: £193.49/Feb: £191.01).

The report said: “We expect that leisure spend among households with kids will fall back considerably next month as these consumers return to term-time routines.”

Eating-out (see middle graph on the right)

The research found that increased eating out activity driven by Valentine’s Day and half-term contributed towards growth in average spend of 11% (£7) in February versus January, with the much of this increase in spend driven by family households outside of London and the South East.

Average eating out spend per household in London and the South East increased by £4 between January and February. Elsewhere across the country, eating out spend rose by £8. The impact of half-term is evident in the data with family eating out spend rising by £18 in February versus January. Households without kids saw only a small increase in spend of £3 during the same period.

Drinking-out (see bottom graph on the right)

Across the previous three months, households in London and the South East have on average spent 18% more on drinking out than households in the rest of the country. During the same period, households without kids on average spent 20% more on drinking out than family households.

While households in the South East only saw a modest £1 (2%) increase in drinking out spend between January and February, households in the rest of the country increased their drinking out spend by over £5 per household (15%).

Other leisure spend

In February, half-term will have been instrumental in the huge swing in the type of audience for “other leisure” (ie cinema, bowling, museums, live events, gym, gambling). During the month, households in London and the South East spent, on average, £18 more than those in the rest of the country on other leisure, a considerably smaller difference than seen in previous months. Households with kids spent, on average, £47 more on other Leisure activities during February than households without kids.

Over the previous three months, the research found that the average household has spent almost £20 attending live sports events each month, slightly more than on attending other eive Events (£18) and visiting the theatre/cinema (£18).

Over the same period, the average household spent almost £16 on gambling each month, considerably more than was spent on visiting museums, art galleries and other attractions, bowling and gym membership.

To see a copy of the February 2014 Greene King Leisure Tracker report click on the link to the pdf on the right.

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