CACI, the consumer and location intelligence specialist, has revealed a series of changing consumer patterns in the leisure sector. The data comes from CACI’s new platform, Brand Dimensions, which compares spend across 300 well-known brands representative of the UK market, and highlights the growth of competitive socialising concepts as cinema visits decline.

Comparing October 22 – March 23 with the same period a year earlier, the number of transactions at competitive socialising venues are up 9%, with sales up 5%. Flight Club and Hollywood Bowl have performed particularly well, with a 22% and 31% increase in transactions, and sales boosted by 17% and 13%, respectively.

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Meanwhile, post-pandemic challenges continue within the cinema sector, with transactions down 27% and sales down 23% among the six leading operators. That said, Average Transaction Value (ATV) is up 5% on average at five of the six key cinema brands, suggesting that those who do visit are engaged and willing to spend.

Utilising additional data from Centre Dynamics, CACI’s location intelligence platform which analyses a range of retail destinations around the UK, CACI has also revealed that 72% of city centres have increased their leisure provision in the past year, and regional malls by 64%. This compares against the 29% average increase across all destinations, accounted for by the likes of Flight Club and Hollywood Bowl targeting these locations within their growth strategies.

However, leisure occupiers have fallen in 72% of satellite centres and 50% of suburban centres – two destination classes that have grown their F&B portfolio by 91% and 58% and health and beauty provision by 92% and 57% – in a clear indication of the sectors these locations feel are most likely to deliver sustained customer engagement and loyalty.

Arabella Dalloz, Principal Consultant, Head of Leisure at CACI, commented: “The significant uplift in transactions and sales at leading competitive leisure concepts such as Flight Club and Hollywood Bowl is likely down to considered growth strategies, with both brands expanding and picking up on the changing social trends. Flight Club has even taken the world by storm, opening across the US and Australia.

“Retail destinations that have increased their leisure portfolio see the sector as critical to attracting and retaining office workers and shoppers in a post-pandemic world, giving them more reasons to visit and spend their time and money there. While those that have decreased their leisure offer are more local community focused, and see the leisure experience as less important than quality and diversity in F&B and wellbeing focused operations.”

Rob Arthur, Founder of the leisure, entertainment and cinema consultancy, Paguro Ideas, added: “Now more than ever, audiences need cinema to offer something they can’t get at home. This may be the content itself, the social experience, with family, friends or a roomful of like-minded strangers, a chance to disconnect from people or gadgets; or unrivalled technology – the biggest screen, luxury recliner seats with exceptional F&B offers and immersive sound. Finding the motivating factors for different audiences and titles will be key in tempting people out of their homes, particularly in times of economic crisis and market disruption.

“The cinema industry has historically remained robust throughout numerous recessions and economic uncertainty, and for this reason, many operators remain complacent, assuming the sector will bounce-back on its own accord.  However, being solely a cinema that only focusses on transactional ticket sales in times of easy and convenient access to streaming services is not working anymore. These brands need to invest in understanding their audience better and think differently about how they can actively engage with their customers, evolving entertainment experiences and create more reasons to visit for all age groups”.

This news comes as CACI announces the imminent launch of a new version of Acorn, the demographic segmentation tool that helps businesses understand their customers and employ increasingly relevant and sophisticated consumer strategy. Acorn will be fully integrated with Brand Dimensions, providing market-leading insight into the performance of 300 brands and their customers.