UK consumers are visiting pubs, clubs and restaurants more often - but spending less - as “austerity fatigue” kicks in. That’s according to a survey of 3,000 consumers for the Zolfo Cooper Leisure Wallet report, which found that visits to pubs/bars, restaurants and late-night venues increased by 2.2%, 4% and 10.5% respectively compared to a survey one year ago. Monthly visits to pubs and bars increased from 4.3 in summer 2010 to 4.6. Visits to restaurants increased slightly, from 2.5 to 2.6 per month, and for late-night venues they also crept up from 1.9 to 2.1. It’s the first time that each sector has seen an increase since the Leisure Wallet was launched in summer 2010. However, the latest report shows that average spend per visit in pubs and bars fell 9.5% to £14.69. For restaurants, the decline is 8% to £15.90, and for late-night bars it’s 12.4% to £24.04. According to the survey, 48% of consumers said their disposable income has fallen in the last six months, while just 6% said it had increased. Over the past year average national household income fell £640 to £30,584, the survey found. The survey also highlighted big differences in spending patterns across the country. For pubs and bars, the biggest spenders are in the north west at £999 per year, compared to £490 in the East Midlands. Londoners are the highest spenders in restaurants, spending £889 pa, with consumers in the capital spending at least £200 more per year than any other region. Again, spend was the lowest in the East Midlands, at £332. Paul Hemming, partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: “Consumers are increasingly aware that the economy is experiencing a prolonged trough not a dip, and that wages and growth will not be rising dramatically any time soon. “The data in the Leisure Wallet shows that people are now starting to adjust to these changed circumstances. After at least two years of virtuous belt-tightening, they are fed up of being stuck indoors by an austerity curfew and are now beginning to venture out more often. “Even though consumers continue to keep close watch on their spending, this is good news for operators with strong propositions because ultimately no leisure business can survive without customers coming through the door.” Hemming added: “It may seem strange to be talking about positives when spending continues to decline but the fact that visits are up across the board suggests consumers have now recognised that they can still afford to go out regularly and enjoy themselves provided they spend a bit less on each night out. “For operators, this more budgeted approach to leisure still presents opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell, and more people coming through the doors shows that operators’ sales initiatives and marketing plans are starting to work.”

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