New report on competitive socialising

Changing consumer behaviour and technological developments are driving a rise in ‘competitive socialising’ – there are now 170 separate operators in the UK according to research from international real estate advisor Savills, in a report issued in collaboration with The Leisure Property Forum.


The report undertakes a comprehensive assessment of emerging trends in the leisure property sector.  It shows that the market turned a corner in 2018 within the competitive socialising space, as several brands and concepts emerged across the UK. However, with 170 separate operators, across 340 locations, the market is diverse and fragmented with only three brands occupying more than 10 sites.

There are significant opportunities for entrepreneurial brands to establish themselves within the competitive socialising industry, with only a small number of sites needed for an operator to effectively become a national brand.

Leisure – Competitive Socialising Opportunities

Leading the way within the sector are ‘against-the-clock experiences’, otherwise known as escape rooms. With more than 145 locations throughout the UK across over 60 operators, the escape room market is diverse, with Savills forecasting that by the end of 2020 there will be more than 200 locations nationwide.

In London alone Savills has identified more than 24 different escape rooms. However with four key brands emerging within the market, Savills expects those four to account for over 25% of the market by the end of the year, arguably making it easier for landlords to identify the market leaders when considering these concepts for their schemes – yet still leaving ample opportunity for acquisitive independents to build their presence.

Competitive socialising – a growth concept

Also increasing their presence are urban golf concepts, with 53 existing venues across the country. Currently, however, only five brands within the sector operate three or more locations and, with a number intent on significant expansion plans, we are already seeing the rise of several world class operations.

The diverse nature of the competitive socialising market is also evident across the emerging ‘bar & game’ sector, as well as with virtual reality venues, with both concepts offering a vast range of operators, but none yet with more than a handful of sites. Customer journey is key and Savills predicts that those who offer a unique, immersive, social experience for their target audiences will be the ones to establish themselves as the brands of the near future.

Tom Whittington, director for retail and leisure research at Savills comments: “Whilst many of us have been visiting bowling alleys and cinemas for years, consumers continue to seek new experiences. This new, diverse and yet fragmented market presents a great opportunity for entrepreneurial operators to become genuine contenders as national brands within the leisure industry.

The growth of the competitive socialising market offers a positive counter narrative to current challenges facing sectors such as retail and casual dining. In fact, there is increasing evidence that landlords are bringing these emerging concepts into their schemes to increase the diversity of offer, reposition underutilised space and repurpose units that have been made available from large retailers departing from their schemes. With variety of offer arguably being the new anchor, competitive socialising brands have an important role to play.”

Ashley Blake, Chair of the Leisure Property Forum and CEO of Otium Real Estate adds: “We are delighted to jointly release this important report on such an exciting and fast-growing sector within leisure. The Leisure Property Forum has a remit to engage and inform its members – by working with Savills to provide this research we know that operators, landlords and consultants will all benefit”.

For further information on this research, please contact:
Tom Whittington, Savills Tel: +44 (0) 1612 447 779

The Leisure Property Forum is the UK’s leading body focusing exclusively on the wider leisure industry. Membership is open to those who are investing or working in the leisure real estate sector . The LPF events and seminars bring together operators, landlords, developers and
professional consultants across a wide range of disciplines – all of whom are working in the leisure space – for unparalleled networking opportunities with senior decision makers in the sector.

Competitive socialising research 2019 – download the report here

For press information contact:

Tracy Thomas at: