September 28, 2021

Research highlights risk averse attitudes as sport and leisure activities return

4C Associates’ research highlights risk averse consumer attitudes towards leisure, sport and entertainment activities as the UK public postpones bookings due to concerns over cancelled events.

A multigenerational survey of over 200 UK respondents has shown that whilst they enjoyed leisure and live sport and entertainment pre-lockdown, they are hesitating to return to entertainment and sport venues as they reopen post-lockdown. Crowd management is a key concern for over 57 percent of consumers, followed by 52 percent who are uncertain about health and safety and transmission risks and 46 percent who fear long waiting times.

Booking of live events is negatively impacted by the fear of last-minute cancellations and potential money disputes, as many have seen booked event dates moving further and further away as a result of social distancing measures. Whist for some events, health-conscious consumers are prepared to wait, many of those events rescheduled to a later date might lose relevance over time.

The shift to more virtual experiences has been welcomed during Covid restrictions, however it doesn’t beat the in-person experience. According to the research, 57 percent of respondents do plan to return to their usual sport and entertainment activities as soon as possible, and they also plan to participate in more leisure and entertainment activities outdoors to reduce transmission risks. For many, the closures of gyms means that they adapted their sport routines to a more home-based set up, or by taking to outdoor exercise and this trend is likely to remain, with over half of sport enthusiasts replacing their gym workouts with home and outdoor exercise.

Unsurprisingly, over 60 percent told 4C Associates that they plan to attend more social gatherings to reunite with friends and family this summer. However, the conscious easing into post-lockdown means that the majority are planning to socialise at home, instead of going to pubs and restaurants and host more gatherings at home to mitigate health risks. Outdoor living spend in the UK is predicted to be the highest this summer, with consumers planning to invest more in their external surroundings and home entertainment, reflecting the overall attitude with focus on spending more time at home to reduce health risks even after the lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Attending in-person business events, conferences and exhibitions remains at risk as only 40 percent of respondents plan to return to their pre-pandemic levels of attendance. This in one hand will negatively impact the ability of venues to be used to their maximum capacity, as the event sector hopes for a much needed boost, however it will support the easier implementation of social distancing measures and reduce crowd management challenges.

The prolonged periods of social distancing and economic uncertainty have impacted the way consumers behave and how they approach entertainment, and whilst the successful vaccine rollout indicates a positive outlook on restoring consumer demand, these behavioural patterns and attitudes are not linear and will be impacted by the delayed last phase of Covid restrictions, and beyond.