A national survey of 2,000 UK consumers, undertaken by leading advisory and restructuring group Zolfo Cooper, shows that while visits to pubs, bars, and restaurants have remained broadly static in 2013, visits to nightclubs fell to their lowest level since the research began.
In the sixth edition of the study, respondents indicated they were visiting nightclubs on average 1.7 times per month – down from 2.5 times in 2012 – equating to 20 visits per year. Among the key age group of 18-34 years, visits fell from 2.7 times per month to 1.7 times, the first time that the number of visits has dipped below two per month for this category.
Eating out at restaurants showed the strongest results in the report, with spend per visit increasing by 8%, compared to 2.5% in pubs and bars (December 2011 to October 2013). One third of both men and women respondents said that they sought out pubs and bars closer to home/involved less travelling; this liking for venues closer to home has seen a steady increase since the research began in March 2010.
Only 12% ‘try to go to pubs and bars’ with Happy Hours or price promotions. In addition, over half of respondents indicated they used discount vouchers when eating out in restaurants, with 17% saying they used them ‘most/all of the time’; and there’s been a reduction in the number of consumers ‘drinking before leaving home’, down to 15% from 20% two years ago.
Paul Hemming, partner and head of corporate finance at Zolfo, said: “Whilst young people will always want to go dancing, our research continues to suggest that the younger generation are rejecting the formal ‘big box’ nightclub experience. If you only have the funds to go clubbing once or at most twice a month then you will only go to the “best” venues, which are typically run by specialist operators catering to their local market.
“The generation that grew up before the Licensing Act 2003, which extended pub opening hours, are now in, or approaching, their thirties, where clubbing is a lesser priority. Nightclubs have to offer a better experience to attract the younger generation who have grown up dancing in a good late-night bar. Despite the tough market the recent flotation of Eclectic Bar Group shows there is still investor interest in this market.”
Women were even less likely to visit traditional late-night venues than men, visiting just 1.5 times per month – again, a new low. Average spend at nightclubs was broadly static at £26.65 per ‘night out’ versus £26.70 in 2012. The trend for consumers to visit clubs later was consistent with 2012: 28% of clubbers do not enter a venue before midnight; 30% of visitors went to clubs at 11pm while 29% were in at 10pm or earlier.
Men have been responsible for the highest increases in spending – 13% more on eating out, compared to women who were actually spending marginally less over the same period.
“While there is no one stand-out indicator to suggest a material surge in consumer confidence, what comes through clearly from the body of the research is a general uptick across the board,” added Hemming.
“This is now the sixth study and it is clear to us that consumers are feeling better about things, which fits with what we are seeing elsewhere, be it economic growth forecasts, the recovery of the jobs market or construction and the service industries data.”
When questioned on their future outlook, the majority of respondents said they had confidence in the UK economy growing over the next 12 months, with almost 30% saying that they expected to see growth, and a further 41% believing it would remain at a similar level to now.
The increasing influence of technology was also picked up by the study, with 64% of respondents owning a Smartphone (rising to 84% of 18-34 year-olds), with 46% of this group having used it to research a venue or event, and 27% having booked a venue/tickets using their phone. 11% of all respondents had used ‘contactless payment’ in a bar/restaurant/leisure activity in the last 12 months, while 32% would use contactless payment if they had the opportunity to do so in the next 12 months; 58% said they would choose not to.