Circle Insights

Uncovering consumers’ leisure priorities in the festive period

Arabella Dalloz

The latest findings from our Cost of Living consumer survey are in, and we’re taking a look at the insights through the lens of the leisure industry. 

With over 2,000 respondents surveyed in November, we asked consumers about their thoughts and priorities in the lead up to Christmas to help brands understand how their customers may be behaving. For companies in the leisure space, being able to predict the movements, intentions and spending patterns of customers is key at this time of year, especially in the current economic climate. 

So, what did we find? 

Nearly half of consumers still want to socialise and spend despite the impact of the Cost of Living

With 46% of respondents agreeing that the increased Cost of Living will not impact their intended Christmas social plans (up from 40% in 2022), leisure brands can expect to benefit from people wanting to attend and spend on events out of the home this year. 

While this is reflected in general financial fears dropping since the late summer, there seems to be a generational divide with Gen X, Millennials and Boomers feeling more confident. Gen Z, on the other hand, reached a new peak of concern at over 50%. 

Their concerns relate to their personal finances as opposed to family finances or the national/global economy, which could affect brands reliant on young adults to boost their seasonal profits. 

Energy fears remain high as the cold moves in, leading to potential cost-cutting in other areas for some groups

With energy costs becoming more of a focus as temperatures drop, some demographic groups are having to cut down on other costs to keep warm this winter – with one in three among the Low Income Living Acorn category expecting to have to do so. 

The impact decreases as we climb the affluence scale but remains fairly significant, with over 20% of the Established Affluence category also considering cost cutting for this reason. 

Spending on food and drink at home remains a priority, but the importance of entertainment and leisure at Christmas is growing

With a significant 79% of people considering spending on food and drink at home to be important this festive period, there is further optimism for the leisure industry as our latest survey has also detected a shift back towards entertainment and leisure as a source of importance. 

While consumers report that most other areas of spending are reducing in importance, entertainment and leisure is trending in the other direction, with 59% of consumers surveyed classifying entertainment and leisure as either somewhat or very important to them this year, which is up from 53% in 2022. This is supported by 47% of respondents identifying that socialising outside of their homes this year is important, which is a slight increase from 2022. 

Overall, the social planning picture is a lot less negative than last year

When we consider the contrast between pre-pandemic and Cost of Living crisis behaviours versus consumer attitudes now, it’s fair to say that people continue to exert caution in the lead up to Christmas. Nonetheless, we’re seeing less negativity year-on-year, which shows that there’s opportunity for leisure brands in the coming weeks. 

Brands may still want to consider how different demographic groups are going to drive success this Christmas, as levels of concern and caution seem to be directly related to affluence. The findings show that the Established Affluence category appear to place the most importance on maintaining their food and beverage spending and socialising this year. 

When taking age into account, we found that a surprisingly large pocket of younger respondents actually prefer New Year’s Eve to Christmas Day as a celebration. So, this could be something to consider when rolling out engagement strategies post-Christmas. 

Apply these insights to your consumers and stay in the loop as you strategise

We work with a range of market-leading brands in the leisure industry, helping them to identify, understand and locate their customer base to drive value for their businesses and inform successful estate optimisation and growth. If any of our demographic or location-focused data is of interest to you, or if you’d like to dive deeper into our survey results, please get in touch to discuss this with us. 

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Arabella Dalloz