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Leisure activities in the United Kingdom (UK) - statistics & facts

Free time is important to UK consumers, with most of the public taking part in some form of hobby or leisure activity outside of work and other commitments. Popular activities include watching TV, eating out, and spending time with friends and family. Spending associated with these activities contributes to the UK leisure market and its subsectors. In 2019, UK households spent a little under 20 British pounds a week on restaurant and café meals alone, plus an additional eight pounds a week on drinking out in pubs and bars.

The UK leisure industry

The leisure industry broadly includes any businesses offering services related to recreation and free time activities. This can include sport activities, such as going to the gym and live sports events, and culture and entertainment, including TV/film subscriptions and concerts. It also incorporates, and is sometimes used interchangeably, with tourism and hospitality segments, however, the focus tends to be more on consumer leisure time than on specific travel and dining activities. Of the main leisure subsectors, restaurants and food services generate the highest revenues in the UK, followed by gambling and betting activities.

What are popular leisure activities in the UK?

Leisure activities people participate in away from their home, particularly for younger age groups, include going out (to bars and restaurants) and going to the cinema. Over half of UK consumers went on nights out at least once a week in 2019, including to pubs and clubs. Due to the government's lockdown associated with COVID-19, this was not possible for all of 2020. As an alternative, some people opted to have virtual gatherings with friends and family via apps such as Zoom, and others had food delivered to their home instead of eating out.

At home, watching television and listening to music are the top activities for all age groups. Some interests, such as gardening, are much more popular with older generations than young people. Younger generations are less likely to read books in their spare time compared to their older peers. Other forms of digital entertainment take up much more of consumers’ time in the modern age, as social media and on-demand services compete for their attention. In-home and out-of-home leisure, however, are still both important to the British public, as far as current insights show.


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