New research by Zolfo Cooper, the professional services firm, suggests that 78% of consumers drink at home before they go out to a pub or bar. The research, which is published tomorrow in the advisory and restructuring group’s Leisure Wallet Report Summer 2010, also reveals that pre-loaders spend the most when drinking in pubs and bars. They spend 33% more than those who do not pre-load with an average spend per person of £22.11 – and, unsurprisingly, the age group most likely to pre-load is 18 to 34 year olds. The study, which surveyed 2,921 adults last March, also suggests the problem of cheap supermarket alcohol could be having an impact on consumer spending. It suggested that compared with six months ago 44% of people are drinking less often in pubs and bars. This situation is even worse with nightclubs – where Zolfo Cooper discovered that 60% of those surveyed had cut back on visits. Paul Hemming, partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: “The research connects binge drinking with pre-loading, suggesting that cheap supermarket alcohol is a more serious driver of heavy drinking than actions of the pubs and bar operators. The results support the case for those calling for legislation to stop supermarkets pricing alcohol below cost.” The research also revealed that we could be experiencing a sea change in the UK’s drinking culture and the company said it would track it with further 6 monthly reports. Hemming added: “The other interesting trend we will seek to track is the impact of social networking and computer gaming on the consumer’s leisure activity. We hear operators bemoaning the fact that people are going out later as a result of the recession but we think this may in fact be a permanent cultural shift for the internet generations which is unlikely to reverse.” Elsewhere the study concurred with other research that suggests the consumer is becoming more value minded – but it also highlighted an interesting facet of modern drinking habits. It found that 26% of those surveyed said they were drinking closer to home to save on travel costs. On the subject of restaurants it discovered that 39% of those surveyed said they were eating out less, with 67% opting for the pub as their preferred dining experience. Harvester, the Mitchells & Butlers brand, topped the study for a choice of eating a casual meal – and eating out on a special occasion.