Leisure & Recreation Market in the UK

leisuretriptips time is more important than ever before. It is increasingly likely that both partners in a household are working full time; commuting adds to the burden of the daily routine, whether to school or to work. There is also the increasing danger of sedentary occupations, producing the demand for active leisure or ‘recreation’. More working time is spent every year sitting in front of a computer terminal or on the telephone, followed by driving home or sitting in a train. At home, the temptation is greater than ever before to sit in front of the widescreen television, with its superb picture and sound, or to spend hours on the Internet or playing electronic games.

To satisfy the demand for activities that break into the sedentary pattern, there is a vast range available both inside and outside the home. In total, the leisure and recreation market as defined by this Market Review involved consumer spending of £83.93bn in 2004, according to Keynote which gave leisure and recreation an 11.5% share of all UK consumer spending. This share has not been increasing, although the trends for each type of leisure activity vary widely. The largest markets in 2004 were: eating out and drinking out; home viewing, covering both goods and services (television sets, Sky subscriptions, the Licence Fee, etc.); DIY and gardening goods; and gambling (including the National Lottery).

Other, smaller leisure markets include reading, home computing and electronic games, sport and exercise, home listening and commercial entertainment or culture outside the home, including cinemas.

Of course, financial expenditure is not the only factor influencing leisure and recreational choices; they are also affected by the amount of leisure time available and how consumers choose to ‘spend’ that time. Research carried out by BMRB Access on behalf of Key Note in July 2005, revealed that watching television, video cassettes (VCs) or digital versatile discs (DVDs) retained its place as the dominant leisure activity both at weekends and in the evenings.

83% of adults claim to enjoy watching ‘the box’ as a leisure activity on the average evening. Other popular activities that consume time but which do not cost the consumer very much include reading a good book and listening to music or the radio.

These same activities are also the most popular at weekends, but weekend leisure is increasingly likely to involve entertaining others at home, indicating the trend towards cocooning within the home for many families, although ‘going to the pub’ is still popular. There are clear divisions in leisure by age group, with pub-going, cinema and concerts preferred by the young, while older consumers enjoy reading, gardening and DIY.

The supply side of leisure markets features a mixture of subsidised activities for example, the Government and local authorities encourage cultural participation and exercise alongside commercial operators, such as the owners of chains of pubs and restaurants, cinemas and bookmakers. Most companies are now specialised, rather than attempting to own more than one leisure subsidiary. This means that the supply side is highly fragmented by sector, although the media markets still feature some multinational conglomerates, such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, Time Warner and Sony.

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