bar-chartEven after 2 years of our Wet Leisure Industry Survey, good market data for our industry is hard to come by. Here we look at some overall leisure market trends.

The state of the nation.

Government research suggests that, unless we change our ways, 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children are predicted to be obese by 2050.

Across the UK, the Government has invested in various schemes such as the ‘Change4Life’ scheme in England and Northern Ireland’s ‘Get a Life, Get Active’ programme, in order to advise people on how to make small lifestyle changes by including fitness activities in their daily routine.

Obviously these schemes do not have a direct impact on the wet leisure industry – although they both recommend swimming as a possible part of a healthier lifestyle – but they do provide a background environment that encourages an improvement in health and wellbeing.

Even in government research, the ‘sports and fitness’ market is seen as a whole but one in which participation in sport or keeping fit generated revenue of £3.45bn in 2011.

61.8% of men and 46.7% of women claiming to have taken part in sports or exercise activities in any given month over the course of the survey and pure ‘fitness and exercise’ activity is growing compared to participating in competitive sport.

An important trend to impact upon the fitness market is the rise of the budget gym, which offers access to the same specialist equipment, without asking consumers to commit to long-term membership fees.

It’s true that these smaller gyms often lack the pools, spas and saunas of their pricier cousins, but that may well make them a potential target market as competition for members rises within the sector.

Sports equipment.

After suffering from a decline during 2008 and 2009 – the height of the recession – the Sports Equipment market has seen incremental increases in consumer expenditure resulting in a market value of £1.05bn in 2011.

Good old golf is still the largest sector of the market but home fitness equipment represented a market with a value of £195m in 2011.

The question is, do enough people know about and see products like swim-spas, saunas and hot tubs as a part of that market. Do we still sell the indulgence of ‘wet leisure’ when perhaps we should promote the health and lifestyle aspects of our industry.

There is a real issue here because; the most significant drop in spending came within the water sports sector, which experienced a 57.1% decrease in expenditure between 2007 and 2011.

However, it is expected that consumer expenditure on leisure activities will continue to increase over the next 5 years, rising by 15.5% from £180.97bn in 2012 to £209.07bn in 2016 and that an increasing proportion of that spending will go on healthier activities than they do at the moment.

The bigger picture.

Of course, none of these figures and none of this research is specifically about the wet leisure industry – but it is showing a picture of the overall environment that we operate in.

The silver lining is that £209bn expected to be spent on leisure in 2016.

The cloud is that 57% decrease in water sports – which presumably includes the wet leisure industry in that sector.

‘Health’ and ‘fitness’ are looking like the buzzwords for the next few years.

We need to make sure that consumers connect those words to our industry.

We hope that this article has been of interest to you.

If you have a comment to make or there is anything you would like to add to this article, then please use the comment box below and get the discussion started.

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