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Fri 9th Nov 2018 - Leisure sector slowdown accelerates in 2018
Leisure sector slowdown accelerates in first half of 2018: The slowdown in the leisure sector accelerated in the first half of 2018 as more pubs and bars shut, new research has revealed, although independent numbers remained stable. The latest bi-annual retail and leisure trends report from Local Data Company (LDC) revealed the net number of leisure units across Britain in the first six months of 2018 fell 1,088 – down 2.4% compared with the previous year. This marks a notable change in the sector as leisure units experienced consistent growth up to the second half of 2017, which saw the tide turn and the number of leisure units decline by 67 – the first fall since 2012. LDC market data showed the drop was driven by a slowdown in store openings and an increase in closures by chain brands. The number of sites occupied by independents – brands with fewer than five outlets nationally – remained stable. The decline in chain units was driven mostly by pubs, which were down 6.5%. Other leisure categories to see net losses were bars (5.7%) and nightclubs (1.4%). Chain cafe and fast food and accommodation operators remained resilient in the first six months of the year, with little net change in numbers, while there was some growth in the leisure market with concepts such as ice cream parlours (51 stores) and independent coffee shops (52 stores) increasing in number. The overall GB vacancy rate across retail and leisure remained stable at 11.2%, partially due to increases in the modification of units such as merging, splitting and redevelopment for other uses such as office, residential and warehouse. However, in October the vacancy rate increased to 11.4%. LDC senior relationship manager Lucy Stainton said: “Previously, the sustained growth in the leisure sector has provided a balancing force for many high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, as sectors more challenged by online growth have reduced their physical presence. This reversal of fortune could have wider implications for our shopping destinations, with potentially fewer leisure operators acquiring sites vacated by retailers such as clothes shops and high-street banks. However, it’s not all doom and gloom with many of the key areas of growth so far this year in newer leisure concepts such as ice cream parlours and independent coffee shops. We hope, therefore, this decline in the leisure sector will stabilise in the coming months and years as newer brands and international concepts chart further growth.”

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