Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker reveals ‘lads who lunch’ boost to eating out

Good Friday visitors enjoying the sunny weather beside the sea at Felixstowe.

Good Friday visitors enjoying the sunny weather beside the sea at Felixstowe.

This year’s early Easter delivered a boost to leisure spending last month, according to a survey carried out for pubs and brewing group Greene King.

The latest Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker report reveals that British households spent an average of £216 on out-out-home during March, an increase of £20, or 10%, compared with the same period last year.

The figure also represented a £34, or 19%, increase compared with February, when many households curtailed their spending following a busy Christmas and New Year period.

Spending in the Eating Out category saw the largest rise in March, growing by £14, or 18%, year-on-year to £92. This increase, representing growth of 23% comapared with February, was largely driven by fine Good Friday weather and the Easter school holidays.

The report adds that a new trend of “lads who lunch” also emerged, with 43% of men surveyed stating that their weekend pub visit is mainly to have lunch with friends and family. Only 19% stated that their visit was to watch sport on TV, while 4% said it was to play pub games, such as darts

Britons spent an extra £5, or 12%, on Drinking Out in March compared with the same period last year, taking the total to £47 – a 17% increase on February.

There was, howver, a marked geographical split, with consumers in London and the South East increasing their spending on Drinking Out by £11, or 25%, year-on-year, substantially more than households in the rest of Great Britain which increased their spend by £3, or 6%, year-on-year.

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The Cheltenham Festival boosted spending in the Other Leisure category in in March with many British households enjoying a punt on the racing. Casino and other gaming spend grew by £3, or 25%, compared with February to £77, contributing to a small 2% increase in Other Leisure spending year-on-year.

Spending on live sports events, however, fell £3, or 20%, year-on-year in the three months to March.

Fiona Gunn, Greene King’s group marketing director, said: “Easter falling early this year saw many British households increase their leisure spending across the board, particularly in Eating Out.

“There was also the excitement of the Cheltenham Festival, which boosted Other Leisure spending, and the fact that the school holidays allowed many families to enjoy some quality time together out of home.”

The Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker is part of an omnibus questionnaire run on behalf of Greene King by research partner YouGov and analysed in conjunction with Trajectory Partnership.

Each month’s report is based on an online, nationally representative sample of around 4,000 individuals aged 18-plus, with data having been collected every month since August 2013.

Paul Flatters, chief executive of Trajectory, said: “After a February to forget – when financial uncertainty and terrible weather saw leisure spending fall - March has been a more positive month.

“Consumer confidence has stabilised, and it appears that the early positioning of the Easter weekend and its two bank holidays (in March as opposed to April) has helped to boost leisure spending.

“There is also evidence of new trends in leisure behaviour, with the 43% of men who say their weekend pub visits are driven by a desire to have lunch with family and friends creating a ‘lads who lunch’ occasion.”