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Night-time industry evolves amid swathe of club closures

Published:  19 March, 2024

Few industries have suffered more than night-time hospitality during and since the pandemic. Last month, Rekom UK, which owns the Pryzm and Atik nightclub brands shut down 17 of its venues. 

Rekom is just one of many victims in the wake of Covid-19, which accelerated evolving consumer trends led by a sober-curious and cash-strapped Generation Z.

According to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), 396 nightclubs across the UK have closed between March 2020 and December 2023 – equating to 31% of total businesses in the sector.

As a result, where ‘big-night-out’ events occur in the UK has evolved since the pandemic, with ticketed events like bottomless brunches, competitive socialising, themed events or pub or bar crawls growing in popularity.

In a survey of 2,000 high-tempo consumers, CGA found that respondents typically go to such an event at least once every three months. Fewer are now late-night visits, with afternoons and early evenings becoming popular times to go out.

Booking ahead is important to respondents, with two in five (39%) consumers pre-booking a table or table with drinks beforehand – rising to 46% of females. Nearly half (47%) of pre-bookers, and 60% of students, reserve their tables at least a week in advance. Three-quarters of consumers (75%) schedule their start time and a large majority also plan elements like the group they’re visiting with (87%), their pre-drinks (82%) and the venues they’ll visit (64%).

Nearly a third say they would pre-order bottles of sparkling wine/champagne (31%) or sharing jugs (31%), while single-serves (31%), buckets of packaged drinks (27%), bottles of spirit with mixers (25%) and trays of shots/energy bombs (17%) are all in demand too.

However, when it comes to how much money they’ll spend, consumers take a more relaxed approach with nearly 50% not budgeting what they’ll spend (47%) and if they do, 13% admit they won’t stick to their budget.

Trading up in terms of drinks is an important part of the high-tempo occasion, with more than half (53%) agreeing they are likely to pay more for a better quality drink – 14 percentage points more than on an average occasion.

Jonny Jones, CGA by NIQ managing director UK and Ireland, said: “High tempo visits to the on-premise involve an interesting mix of advance thought and in-the-moment decision-making – especially later on in a visit. But they will only make spontaneous in-venue purchases if they believe this will elevate their experience. 

“This creates some great opportunities for suppliers and venues to sell drinks in advance and alongside food, and to plan strategies to maximise dwell time and spend. But behaviours are evolving fast, and success requires a good understanding of the new-look balance of planning and spontaneity.”