Monday 4 July 2016 4:17 pm

The leisure sector has grown to £117bn as Britons are spending their money on experiences rather than products

Britons are increasingly spending their time and money on experiences rather than shopping, according to research from Deloitte. 

Spending on leisure activities such as going out for meals, holidays and TV streaming services is growing nearly twice as fast as the retail sector.

The industry as a whole is now worth £117bn and since 2010 has grown at a rate of five per cent per year.

Deloitte said Britons' leisure spending was falling into two distinct categories. On the one hand, there were "considered, occasional" activities that are higher cost, such as holidays, going out to the theatre or to see live sports.

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On the other hand, "frequent, habitual" activities such as takeaway food, TV subscriptions such as Netflix and going to coffee shops were gaining increasing momentum.

In the first quarter of 2016, 95 per cent of 3,000 survey respondents said they had spent money on leisure activities.

The most popular activity was, perhaps unsurprisingly, eating out (85 per cent), while 77 per cent channelled their funds into in-home activities such as film, TV and music streaming. 

The in-home leisure market, which was boosted by dwindling spending during the recession, is now worth an estimated £5.8bn. 

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Simon Oaten, partner for hospitality and leisure at Deloitte, said: "Leisure is no longer defined as an out-of-home activity.

"In-home leisure has continued to grow since the recession and consumers now regard these activities as part of their day-to-day leisure routine. Improved technology, such as smart TVs and streaming services have enabled consumers to enjoy leisure in the comfort of their own home, in addition to going out."

Leisure spending and consumer confidence

Deloitte also said the sector's influence on the overall economy has been "understated" and that it should be treated as a wider barometer of consumer confidence. 

"In order to spend on leisure, consumers need sufficient disposable income to justify spending on non-essential activities. For this reason, the behaviour of the leisure consumer is essential to understanding the prospects for the UK economy," Oaten added. 

"A confluence of factors, including low inflation and high employment levels, has boosted consumers’ spending on leisure in recent years."

Read more: Consumers say they'll be saving, not spending, in Brexit Britain

However, the recent EU referendum result could shake the leisure world, as it has led to "uncertainty" which could impact a sector that is so highly reliant on discretionary spending. 

Consumers who experienced a reduction in disposable income would be most likely to reduce spending on frequent, habitual leisure activities such as betting and gaming (45 per cent), eating out (39 per cent) and drinking out (38 per cent), according to the report.