Sorry for interrupting, this website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Learn more
Accept & Close

UK Free Leisure market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Free Leisure market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Report coverage

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.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by John Worthington, a leading analyst in the Leisure sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

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 Leisure & Travel Analyst

What you get

What's included

Why buy from us?

Succeed

Our reports will provide you with market data, consumer research and competitive intelligence to succeed in your market.

Instant Access

Buy now and you'll have instant access to the information you need to make the right decisions.

Opportunities

Find out what's next in the markets that matter to you: where opportunities lie and what challenges you will face.

Trusted

A business Superbrand, Mintel is a source you can trust. We have been defining and refining the Market Intelligence mix since 1972.

Table of contents

  1. Overview

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

          • The market
            • Spare time squeeze puts pressure on participation
              • Figure 1: Mean total daily leisure time, by age and gender, 2015
            • Careful consumers keep value to the fore
              • Figure 2: Spending priorities for spare cash, October 2018
            • Wellbeing initiatives promote hobbies for health
              • Figure 3: Attitudes towards managing stress and wellbeing, February 2018
            • The consumer
              • A nation of hobbyists
                • Figure 4: Participation in hobbies and interests, November 2018
              • Hobbyists turn to each other’s expertise
                • Figure 5: Sources of information about hobbies and interests, November 2018
              • Specialist stores hold on to high-value niche
                • Figure 6: Hobby and interest shopping habits, November 2018
              • Catch them while they’re young
                • Figure 7: Experience of taking up a new hobby or interest, November 2018
              • Low interest rates beyond groups hobbies already bank on
                • Figure 8: Incentives to trying a new hobby, November 2018
              • What we think
              • Issues and Insights

                • Hobbies to go pro on social media
                  • The facts
                    • The implications
                      • Healthy hobbies on wellbeing agenda
                        • The facts
                          • The implications
                          • The Market – What You Need to Know

                            • Spare time squeeze puts pressure on participation
                              • Careful consumers keep value to the fore
                                • Hobbies present the right image for social media
                                  • Wellbeing initiatives promote hobbies for health
                                  • Market Drivers

                                    • Keeping the time-poor hobby-rich
                                        • Figure 9: Mean total daily leisure time, by age and gender, 2015
                                      • Saving over spending brings value to the fore
                                          • Figure 10: Spending priorities for spare cash, October 2018
                                        • Hobbies pin their hopes on social
                                          • Figure 11: Tendency to share or view social media content, by age, April 2018
                                        • Wellbeing focus widens to take in mental health
                                            • Figure 12: Attitudes towards managing stress and wellbeing, February 2018
                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                          • A nation of hobbyists
                                            • Hobbyists turn to each other’s expertise
                                              • Specialist stores hold on to high-value niche
                                                • Catch them while they’re young
                                                  • Low interest rates beyond groups hobbies already bank on
                                                  • Most Popular Hobbies and Interests

                                                    • No shortage of hobby interest
                                                      • Figure 13: Participation in hobbies and interests, November 2018
                                                    • Women have wider interests
                                                      • Figure 14: Repertoires of hobbies and interests, November 2018
                                                    • Little and often adds up for books
                                                        • Figure 15: Hobbies and interests most time spent on, November 2018
                                                    • Information Sources

                                                      • Brands in the background as independence has its day
                                                        • Figure 16: Sources of information about hobbies and interests, November 2018
                                                      • A single source of truth for most
                                                        • Figure 17: Repertoires of hobby and interest information sources, November 2018
                                                      • Social media’s obsession with image crowds out the written word
                                                          • Figure 18: Use of social media as a source of information about hobbies and interests, November 2018
                                                      • Hobby Shopping

                                                        • Specialists better off with the better off
                                                            • Figure 19: Hobby and interest shopping habits, November 2018
                                                          • Narrow preferences a key target for expansion
                                                              • Figure 20: Single-channel hobby and interest shopping preferences, November 2018
                                                            • Expert advice recommends an upgrade
                                                                • Figure 21: Shopping with specialist hobby and interest retailers, by hobby or interest, November 2018
                                                            • Trying New Hobbies

                                                              • Experiments of youth
                                                                  • Figure 22: Experience of taking up a new hobby or interest, November 2018
                                                                • Taking up new hobbies is a majority interest
                                                                    • Figure 23: Interest in taking up a new hobby, November 2018
                                                                • New Hobby Incentives

                                                                  • The hobby-rich are time- and money-poor
                                                                      • Figure 24: Incentives to trying a new hobby, November 2018
                                                                    • A helping hand for newcomers
                                                                        • Figure 25: Incentives to trying a new hobby or interest, by interest in trying a new hobby or interest, November 2018
                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviation and Supporting Information

                                                                      • Data sources
                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                          • Consumer research methodology