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Leisure Market in the Welsh Capital on the Road to Recovery


Cardiff shows underlying resilience in its leisure offer, according to a report from Avison Young who have released its leisure update covering Q1 2022, reporting on key market figures and trends for leisure operators and investors.

Market summary

Signs of recovery are visible across the leisure market following the impacts of Covid-19. Cinema admissions are forecast to reach 80% of 2019 levels in 2022 after four months of closures in 2021. Visitor attractions are also set to gain momentum in the coming year, with theme parks expecting higher levels of revenue growth as overseas visitor numbers recover. International tourists to the UK are set to increase to 24 million and their spending to £19.2 billion – significantly higher than the last two years, but still lower than 2019 levels (59% and 67% respectively).

Overall, while the number of licenced leisure premises across the UK has fallen by over 7% to almost 95,000 since the start of the pandemic, some recovery has already been witnessed. From September to December 2021, the number of premises increased by 1.6% – the first quarter-on-quarter rise reported for more than five years. The FTSE 350 Travel & Leisure index is still trading over 25% lower that pre-Covid levels, despite the imminent lifting of overseas travel restrictions.

Peter Constantine, Principal and Managing Director at Avison Young in Cardiff says:

As the leisure sector gathers momentum, there are promising signs of recovery in 2022, although caution still remains. Inflationary pressures and rising household costs also present a challenge, but we believe consumer demand will remain resilient. Our ‘fun industries’ will play a big part in the path to recovery, getting people back into our towns and cities. The Cardiff leisure scene is a great example of this, showing its underlying resilience and strength as demonstrated by the recent opening of new businesses such as Heidi’s Bier Bar, Par 59, NQ65 and the impending opening of Ivy Asia and Tonight Josephine.

Key statistics and highlights:

  • The effects of Omicron delt a blow to the sector during the Christmas period, with sales at pubs, bars, and restaurants 60% lower compared in December 2019.
  • Amusement and theme parks will see high levels of revenue growth in 2022 at over 6%, benefitting from the increase in overseas visitors.
  • Overseas holiday bookings have surged despite remaining uncertainty in the travel sector: TUI expects summer 2022 bookings to reach pre-pandemic levels and both Thomas Cook and Jet2 reporting 300% increases in holiday bookings compared to last year.
  • New formats are appearing across the market, with virtual reality and immersive experiences top of the agenda: Jump, a new “hyper-reality” activity, is being launched, which imitates the sensation of jumping off cliffs and skyscrapers, and the Dutch start-up Youseum has raised €3M to fund its European expansion with an immersive social media museum.

To read the full leisure update, click