Millennials cut back on gym memberships (but keep up the nights out) as Britons rein back leisure spending

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Millennials are cutting back on gym memberships as British consumers start to rein back spending, according to a new survey.

The balance of consumers increasing their spending on eating out in restaurants fell by three percentage points during the quarter, the survey by accountants Deloitte shows.

Coffee shops and pubs also saw similar reductions in spending as Britons looked to cut their outlays on non-essential items.

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Yet among millennial adults (born after 1983) the survey found a strong seven-percentage-point rise in the proportion spending more on pubs and clubs, and a four-point increase in restaurant visits.

That increase was accompanied by an equally strong decline gym memberships, bucking the usual post-New Year trend of Britons looking to get back into shape.

Consumers of all ages also tightened their belts at home, with home leisure activities, including film and TV streaming as well as video games, seeing a four-point dip in the balance of spending behaviour.

The British consumer has surprised economists over the past year with resilient spending. The unexpected strength of household consumption was a key reason for the Bank of England’s forecasts to understate recent UK economic growth.

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However, the devaluation of sterling has seen rapid increases in prices, with some economists predicting a dip in spending as inflation starts to outpace wages. Discretionary leisure activities are often the first segment of consumer spending to feel the pinch.

Simon Oaten, a partner at Deloitte, said: “The long-term change in consumer behaviour, whereby consumers have favoured spending on experiences over goods, was a key reason for the leisure sector’s continued resilience throughout 2016.

“However, with inflation rising, a weak pound and a slowdown in nominal wage growth, leisure consumers are starting to feel their pockets tighten, leading to a fall in spending on some habitual activities and small luxuries, such as buying the daily coffee."

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