Eating out has seen the largest quarterly rise in spending as the leisure sector was up across the board, according to research by Deloitte.
During the three months to September, leisure consumers spent more or the same in every leisure category compared to the previous quarter.
Spending on eating out, in restaurants, pubs and cafés, saw the biggest rise in spending, increasing by three percentage points from Q2, and six percentage points since Q1.
Spending on culture and entertainment also increased, by two percentage points, since the second quarter of 2016.
Attending live sporting events has seen a similar uplift in spending. Betting and gaming, drinking in pubs and bars, and spending in coffee shops have all seen increases of one percentage point in the last quarter.
With Q3 consumer confidence rising by three percentage points to a five-year high, the gap between leisure and retail spending continues to narrow as consumers keep prioritising spending on experiences, such as holidays and days out, rather than goods and services.
Simon Oaten, partner for hospitality and leisure at Deloitte, said: “Given the political uncertainly in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, it is reassuring to see that the leisure sector has performed well and remained resilient.
“A key reason for the sector’s robustness is due to the growth of habitual leisure spend over the last few years. Leisure, whether in or out of the home, is now part of the daily routine for the vast majority of UK consumers.”
Looking ahead, UK leisure consumers are less optimistic about their spending intentions in the next three months.
Going to the gym and culture and entertainment are the only leisure categories that consumers will likely see an uplift in spending in the fourth quarter, while spending on drinks in pubs and bars will likely remain flat.
Consumers reported they are likely to reduce spending on eating out in the next three months, down seven percentage points from the previous quarter.
In keeping with the time of the year, short and long hotel and holiday breaks will also likely see a decline in spending, falling by nine percentage points.
Oaten added: “The health of the leisure sector is a good barometer of the UK’s economic prospects: consumers need sufficient disposable income to justify spending on non-essential leisure activities.
“Favourable economic conditions, including low inflation, unemployment and interest rates, have encouraged consumers to spend on leisure. Leisure spending will therefore react according to how these economic fundamentals change in the coming months.”
The findings were based on a 3,000-strong consumer survey by independent market research agency YouGov for Deloitte.