You just need to keep up by Sally Whelan

20th September 2019

Sally Whelan is founding director of guest experience management expert HGEM

It’s said £200m has been wiped off the UK nightclub scene in the past five years as consumers turn their backs on evenings out in favour of nights in or a healthier lifestyle. What’s more, with pubs continuing to struggle under the pressure of changing consumer habits, it could be argued UK nightlife isn’t in the rudest of health.

Following discussions with a number of our clients – many of them operating in the late-night sector – the UK’s nightlife became a particularly hot topic in the office. Is the younger generation still going out as much or have experiences such as bottomless brunches gained so much traction in recent years they’re stealing competition from late-night venues?

Our office was split – while some believe every venue has its place as long as its offering remains up to date, others feel the growing popularity of experiential activities has led to an increase in consumers more likely to spend their money and time on something a bit different. To find out a little more, we ran a survey on what 18 to 25-year-olds put at the forefront of their lives. Here are the results.

When asked what time of day they were most likely to go for a drink with friends over a summer weekend, the result was fairly even – 52% chose the evening and 48% chose the day. Of those who chose the day, more than two-fifths (44%) said they preferred offerings available during the day while 19% liked to spend their evenings in. Interestingly, when asked the same question for a winter rather than a summer weekend, 92% would choose the evening to go out for a drink and only 8% would opt for the day.

For those who prefer going out with friends during the day, we wanted to find out whether this was likely to have an impact on their evening. Almost two-thirds (64%) admitted partaking in daytime entertainment would make them less likely to attend a late-night venue. So what about the “perfect Saturday night”? Our research showed while less than two-fifths (36%) of consumers would visit a local pub or bar with friends, almost two-thirds (64%) would spend it at home (whether alone or with friends). As for clubs, not a single 18 to 25-year-old respondent preferred to spend their Saturday night “out on the town”.

That said, when asked what the younger generation was more likely to do for entertainment with friends, three-fifths (60%) of respondents would choose to spend time with friends visiting pubs, bars or clubs, compared with 40% who would choose activities such as bottomless brunches.

So having seen the results, what’s our verdict? While those who have been out during the day are less likely to visit late-night venues, a number of factors still contribute to consumers going out less and it wouldn’t be fair to hold activities such as bottomless brunches responsible – particularly as many consumers would still choose traditional late-night venues over them.

In my opinion, every venue still has its place providing it can keep up with the latest trends of its key demographic.


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