Leisure takes the lead in revitalising our cities

John Coggins, Leisure Director at Avison Young in Cardiff

Cities are back. Almost three years after the onset of COVID-19, streets are bustling with shoppers, bars, and restaurants are adapting to the post COVID-world.

According to strategic real estate advisor Avison Young’s newly released global 10 Trends for 2023, when it comes to enjoyment and entertainment, people are heading back to the places they can find it – which often means the heart of the city.

On the high street, retailers are developing attractive interactive experiences to make “going shopping” just as much a leisure activity as it is a purchasing process. By following the lead of the leisure sector, where the trend for an experiential offering is as strong as ever, retailers are focussed on developing their in-store enjoyment to lure customers back into their stores.

The path that the leisure sector is travelling has been clear to see in Cardiff with the high-profile attractions of the Gareth Bale backed mini golf themed Par59 and global operator Flight Club both opening to much acclaim.

John Coggins, Leisure Director at Avison Young in Cardiff, says, “If customers are engaged and participating in activities such as at Flight Club and Par59, then their dwell time in venues is longer, resulting in a higher average spend.

“This positive view of the city is also true in the casual dining/restaurant sector which continues to see Cardiff as desirable market with a number of openings set for 2023 with Gaucho and Giggling Squid following on from the opening of Ivy Asia late in 2022.”

Yet the leisure market in Cardiff over the last year has been one of contrasts, with closures and openings in equal measure as the sector continues to adapt and change to the post COVID-19 world and the current economic headwinds.

John explains,

“On the credit side of the ledger Cardiff is still viewed as an event and leisure led city, which continues to attract investment by operators in the night-time economy. Over the last year the city centre has seen a number of firsts with the opening of the UK’s first Heidi’s bar and Proud Mary pub together with a number of other high-profile openings by both national operators such as Tonight Josephine and local operators such Gin Ne Sais Quoi.”

On a more sobering note, a number of sites were closed in the city during 2022 and early this year. The leisure market always ebbs and flows as consumer tastes alter and operators respond resulting in a churn of sites opening and closing.

John continues, “Leisure, as ever, remains a very exciting sector, and one that is constantly evolving despite the ups and downs of headwinds including labour shortages, inflation and a cost of living crisis.

“The Cardiff Capital region serves as the leisure and commercial hub for approximately 1.5 million people so well-located sites will always be in demand and quality operators will always look to be part of Cardiff’s night-time economy.”

Currently the UK licensed leisure market is worth approximately £21.55bn, with in excess of 50,000 outlets across the country.

The Avison Young licensed leisure team specialises in the hospitality market and has advised on the purchase and sale of countless pubs, restaurants and hotels and undertaken valuations on all asset classes for various purposes. Understanding the diversity of the leisure industry, Avison Young’s experienced leisure team provides specialist market advice and assistance on every aspect of leisure property, focusing on the business and property lifecycle, from concept and planning to lettings and sales.

“Technology and changing tastes heavily impact the leisure sector, and we appreciate the need for agility, ingenuity and creative thinking to keep up. We’re evolving alongside the industry to give clients the support they need to make their vision a reality,” concludes John.

Revitalising Our Cities is one of the ten trends identified in the Avison Young Ten Trends for 2023.

The new report explores dominant themes and emerging trends that are influencing commercial real estate around the world.

“Understanding social, economic, environmental, geopolitical and business drivers is key to how we navigate clients through the current landscape and help them devise critical real estate strategies that have resilience for the future,” says Dr Nick Axford, Principal and Chief Economist for Avison Young.