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Free Leisure - UK - October 2016

“A long period of economic downturn, slow wage recovery and ongoing uncertainty over recent years has triggered a shift in attitudes towards leisure spending. While many consumers have reduced their out-of-home leisure spending in favour of cheaper forms of home entertainment, free out-of-home leisure has also become a deliberate money-saving choice for consumers, and paid-for leisure choices have become more selective and deal-oriented.”
– John Worthington, Senior Analyst

This report discusses the following key topics:

  • Health and wellness is a key area for potential brand intervention in free leisure
  • Local authority cutbacks and funding crises are likely to generate increasing commercial opportunities in free leisure public spaces
  • ‘Freemium’ leisure and ‘P2P’ could offer new business models of leisure consumption

Despite (or perhaps because of) the growth of the paid-for out-of-home leisure industry, many people still place a high value on freely available leisure and the overall balance of activity for most consumers is oriented towards the free end of the spectrum. Saving money is a key motivator and many people treasure access to ‘brand-free’ spaces and experiences. This presents stiff competition for leisure operators especially in times of economic uncertainty. That said, there are significant business opportunities in ‘free leisure’ such as secondary spend and sponsored events, while local authority spending cuts are necessitating a more commercial approach to revenue generation in areas like free cultural attractions and parks.

This Report covers ‘free leisure’ activities outside of the home. These are activities that are free to take part in (eg going for a country walk, running/jogging, free events, free-to-enter visitor attractions etc). Such activities are considered ‘free’ even if participants spend money on items such as food and drink, travel or sporting equipment etc. The Report excludes all in-home leisure activities.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • Four in 10 anticipate cutting their leisure spend
            • Rising cost of out-of-home leisure
              • Walking is number one free out-of-home activity
                • Figure 1: Frequency of taking part in free leisure activities (summary), August 2016
              • Gardens/country parks and museums are most popular free attractions
                • Figure 2: Attendance at free visitor attractions and events in past 12 months, as a percentage of all UK adults, August 2016
              • The value of ‘free leisure’
                • Figure 3: Frequent secondary spend (always/mostly) on items when doing free leisure activities, August 2016
              • Ambivalent attitudes towards ‘paid' leisure
                • Figure 4: Attitudes towards free leisure activities, August 2016
              • What we think
              • Issues and Insights

                • Health and wellness is a key area for potential brand intervention in free leisure
                  • The facts
                    • The implications
                      • Local authority cutbacks and funding crises are likely to generate increasing commercial opportunities in free leisure public spaces
                        • The facts
                          • The implications
                            • ‘Freemium’ leisure and ‘P2P’ could offer new business models of leisure consumption
                              • The facts
                                • The implications
                                • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                  • Business as usual for now but four in 10 consumers expect to reduce leisure spend in coming months
                                    • Consumer habits have changed
                                      • Inward leisure drift
                                        • Attractions market buoyant but rising charges could have a growing impact
                                          • The value of ‘free leisure’
                                            • Running and cycling enjoying boom period
                                              • Local authority cutbacks impacting on free leisure
                                              • Market Background

                                                • Economic context and leisure spend
                                                    • Figure 5: UK average weekly earnings (excluding bonuses)* vs CPI inflation, percentage change year on year, June 2013-June 2016
                                                  • Shift in spending attitudes
                                                    • Figure 6: Value of the UK leisure industry*, 2010-15
                                                  • Shift in spending attitudes
                                                    • Live music and sports participation have seen strong growth
                                                      • Figure 7: Value of the UK leisure industry, by segment, 2010-15
                                                    • Inward drift of leisure
                                                      • Figure 8: Volume of leisure days visits in Great Britain, 2011-15
                                                      • Figure 9: Spending on 3-hour+ leisure days visits in Great Britain, 2011-15
                                                    • ‘Free leisure’ generates significant secondary spend
                                                      • Figure 10: Volume and spending on types of 3-hour+ leisure day visits in Great Britain, 2015
                                                      • Figure 11: Volume and spending on selected 3-hour+ leisure day activities in Great Britain, 2015
                                                    • Visitor attractions market has remained buoyant…
                                                      • Figure 12: Trends in visits to UK visitor attractions, 2010-15
                                                      • Figure 13: Growth rates in visits by local/day trip visitors to free and paid attractions in England, 2009-15
                                                    • …but family admission charges continue to rise
                                                      • Figure 14: Average annual increases in admission charges at paid attractions in England, 2011-15
                                                    • Gradual increase in sports participation
                                                      • Running and cycling rising in popularity
                                                        • Figure 15: Numbers of people aged 16+ engaged in sports participation at least once a week in England, by activity, 2005/06-2015/16
                                                      • Austerity and free leisure
                                                        • Museum charging back on the agenda
                                                          • Parklife problems
                                                            • Commercial opportunities
                                                            • Free Leisure Attractions and Events – What You Need to Know

                                                              • London, Scotland and North West have biggest concentration of large free attractions
                                                                • Opening doors
                                                                  • Helping the nation become healthier
                                                                    • Exploring the city
                                                                    • Free Leisure Attractions and Events

                                                                      • Free attractions dominated by museums and galleries
                                                                        • Figure 16: Top 10 most visited free attractions in London, 2015
                                                                        • Figure 17: Top 30 most visited UK free attractions outside London, 2015
                                                                      • Heritage Open Days
                                                                        • parkrun
                                                                          • Figure 18: Number of weekly participants in parkrun UK, 2006-16
                                                                        • Sky Ride/HSBC BikeFest
                                                                          • I Am Team GB
                                                                            • Urban exploration
                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                              • Walking is most popular free activity
                                                                                • 36% of adults visit free attractions every two to five months
                                                                                  • Social media is default tool for free leisure among Millennials and young families
                                                                                    • Free leisure can lead to higher secondary spend on food and beverages
                                                                                      • Money saving is key motivation…
                                                                                        • …and people also still value ‘purity’ of free leisure time…
                                                                                          • …but opportunities for sensitive brand intervention exist
                                                                                          • Participation in Free Leisure Activities

                                                                                            • Walking is leading free leisure activity
                                                                                              • Figure 19: Frequency of taking part in free leisure activities (summary), August 2016
                                                                                              • Figure 20: Frequency of taking part in free leisure activities (detailed), August 2016
                                                                                            • Occasional activities
                                                                                              • Demographics of free leisure – physical activities
                                                                                                • Demographics of free leisure – days out
                                                                                                  • The most active free leisure consumers
                                                                                                    • Figure 21: Number of types of out-of-home free leisure activity taken part in, August 2016,
                                                                                                  • Free versus paid leisure
                                                                                                    • Figure 22: Mix of free versus paid leisure activities, August 2016
                                                                                                    • Figure 23: Mix of free versus paid leisure activities, by financial situation, August 2016
                                                                                                • Visiting Free Attractions and Events

                                                                                                  • Country parks and museums are most popular free attractions
                                                                                                    • Figure 24: Attendance at free visitor attractions and events in past 12 months, August 2016
                                                                                                    • Figure 25: Attendance at free visitor attractions and events in past 12 months, as a percentage of all UK adults, August 2016
                                                                                                  • Demographics of free attractions
                                                                                                  • How People Research Free Leisure Activities

                                                                                                    • Social media is leading information source for younger parents
                                                                                                      • Figure 26: Sources used to find out about free leisure activities, August 2016
                                                                                                  • Free Leisure Activities and Secondary Spending

                                                                                                    • Significant secondary spend potential
                                                                                                      • Figure 27: Secondary spend on items when doing free leisure activities, August 2016
                                                                                                      • Figure 28: Frequent secondary spend (always/mostly) on items when doing free leisure activities, August 2016
                                                                                                    • The frequent spenders
                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Frequent secondary spend (always/mostly) on items when doing free leisure activities, by key demographics, August 2016
                                                                                                    • ‘Freemium’ leisure
                                                                                                    • Attitudes towards Free Leisure Activities

                                                                                                      • Better weather favours free leisure
                                                                                                        • Figure 30: Attitudes towards free leisure activities, August 2016
                                                                                                      • Frugality is the new normal
                                                                                                        • Brand-free zone…
                                                                                                          • …but there are commercial opportunities
                                                                                                            • Interest in sponsored free events
                                                                                                              • Stress management events
                                                                                                                • Cultural event potential
                                                                                                                  • Keeping it real
                                                                                                                    • To charge or not to charge
                                                                                                                    • Appendix

                                                                                                                      • Definition
                                                                                                                        • Abbreviations

                                                                                                                        Companies Covered

                                                                                                                        To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                                                        Free Leisure - UK - October 2016

                                                                                                                        US $2,478.79 (Excl.Tax)