Family Time takes Centre Stage

Forget notions of the iPhone generation ushering in the age of the individual: five of the seven most popular leisure pursuits in Britain today involve family members enjoying quality time with each other - according to new research from intu.

Dashing fears of a broken society and the decline of the family unit, these latest figures from the UK's leading shopping centre operator suggest the majority of adults jealously guard their free time, prioritise leisure pursuits with family members and have an active attitude towards getting out of the house to enjoy their downtime.

Eating out with family and friends (55%), seeing family and relatives (55%), cooking a family meal (41%) and having a family trip out (40%) were all top choices for how people spend their free time. Further, people were clear about the real benefits that leisure time had on their lives: 50% said it strengthened family bonds, 38% said it rekindled friendships and 32% said it charged them up for the week ahead at work.

The research forms part of a major forthcoming report from intu, which explores how people around the UK choose to spend their valuable leisure time during the week and weekend, with whom and what they spend their money on. Beyond the daily staples of watching TV and reading, the majority of Britons value shared experiences. Further, after a period of austerity when common budget cutbacks included staying at home in the evenings (44%) and avoiding eating out (46%)*, many are now opting to go out to enjoy their free time with eating out with family or friends overtaking meeting for drinks.

Top 10 ways we like to spend our free time

    1   Watching a film/ TV at home               79%
    2   Reading                                   63%
    3=  Eating out with family/ friends           55%
    3=  Seeing family/ relatives                  55%
    5   Going out for drinks with family/ friends 44%
    6   Cooking a family meal                     41%
    7=  Having a family trip out                  40%
    7=  Investing time in my hobbies              40%
    9   Gardening                                 37%
    10  Going to the cinema                       33%

Additional findings and themes:

  • Eat out nation. With sharing a meal out now more popular than having a drink with friends at the local, British leisure habits may be becoming more European, where a family meal out together is a staple of the week. Young people are now just as likely to eat out as drink out - in fact, more 18-25 year olds prefer going out for dinner with family and friends (60%) than going out for drinks (57%).
  • House proud nation. The report shows that double the number of people would opt to spend their free time buying something for the home (31%) than something for themselves (16%).
  • Health kick. With obesity warnings constantly making headlines, it appears that 18-24 year olds are on a health kick, with 44% choosing the gym as one of their preferred leisure activities.
  • The big read. At a time when the nation's literacy levels have come under scrutiny, the new research reveals that two thirds of Britons chose reading a book as a top leisure activity (63%). The popularity of a trusty read is even across men and women of all ages.

Trevor Pereira, commercial director at intu commented: "The aim of this research was to shed fresh light on how people today are spending their free time and who they are spending it with. We uncovered some really interesting results. As a nation we are really waking up to the benefits of leisure and its ability to strengthen family bonds, rekindle friendships and even energise us for the working week. At a time when there has been so much focus on the drivers behind economic recovery and consumer confidence, the importance of active, enriching leisure time as a trigger to a positive consumer outlook has not been fully explored.

"In our shopping centres across the UK, we have seen a marked change in recent years. Our customers want to do more than just shop at today's shopping centre; they want a place to meet and share time together, whether for a coffee with friends or a family meal out. They are increasingly looking for exciting leisure experiences and events that can be shared by the whole family. Our shopping centres offer a huge variety of leisure activities, from LEGO interactive play areas, Sea Life centres and indoor skiing, to bowling, dining and cinema options. Over the last 12-months we have brought Elephant Parade back to the UK, held national free arts festivals, run immersive and engaging fashion events, hosted thousands of students at our student evenings and held food festival weekends which have been enjoyed by millions of people. Creating uniquely compelling leisure experiences is the future of the shopping centre in Britain and we are driving this change."

Source - intu