Friends at festival

Brits to spend £178bn on memorable experiences this summer, with holidays, live entertainment and sports events the stars of the show

26 June 2024
  • UK consumers expect to spend an average of £3,322 on events, experiences and holidays between June and September
  • Barclays Consumer Spend data shows entertainment and travel sectors have outpaced broader non-essential spending over the past year
  • Six in 10 say they would rather spend money on making memories than buying material possessions
  • Experience-led businesses contribute £134bn to the broader UK economy, according to new modelling from the Centre for Economics and Business Research
  • The ‘All to play for: winning with experience’ report combines hundreds of millions of customer transactions with research and economic modelling to provide an in-depth look at the ‘Experience Economy’

New Barclays Consumer Spend data from the ‘All to play for: winning with experience’ report reveals rising demand for unforgettable experiences such as holidays, sporting events, concerts, days out and competitive socialising, with spending shifting away from retail and routine activities towards creating lasting memories.

Brits are predicted to spend a total of £178bn1 on these activities between June and September this summer, averaging £3,322 per person (median consumer estimate: £701).  While some of this money will be spent abroad or on imports, the UK also stands to benefit. Modelling by Barclays and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) reveals that the UK’s ‘Experience Economy’ – encompassing all businesses that provide consumers with unique and memorable experiences – contributes an estimated £134bn2 to the broader UK economy, a figure greater than the GDP of Morocco3.

Individually, almost half (46 per cent) of the £3,322 average will go towards holidays abroad (£906) and staycations (£615). Other notable activities include live entertainment (£435), attending sports events (£295), and trips to the seaside (£143).

Predictions among younger consumers are actually higher than older consumers, likely due to many entertainment activities targeting younger audiences, as well as those consumers typically having fewer dependents and therefore able to put more of their disposable income into the Experience Economy. Those aged 18-34 expect to spend £5,531 on average (median estimate: £1,751) whereas over 55s say they’ll spend £2,123 (median estimate: £537).

Memories matter more

Six in 10 (57 per cent) say they would rather spend money on a good experience than on buying material possessions, up 5 percentage points compared to corresponding Barclays research from 2018, and nearly two thirds (63 per cent) would rather tell people about something they have experienced rather than something they have bought. Similarly, four in 10 (44 per cent) are actively seeking out new and unique experiences to make the most of the summer – a figure that rises to 61 per cent for 18 to 34-year-olds.

Barclays Consumer Spend data has charted the Experience Economy’s rise for some time. In the last 12 months alone, annual spending on entertainment and travel has increased by 6.5 per cent and 11.6 per cent respectively, outpacing the growth in non-essential spending more broadly (up 3.4 per cent)4.

In particular, spending on shows and concerts is up 4.8 per cent year-on-year, thanks to ticket sales for major events – a trend brought to life in Barclays’ recent ‘Swiftonomics’ research, which revealed that Taylor Swift fans attending the Eras Tour are predicted to spend a total of £997m5 (£848 on average per ticketholder) to see their idol perform live in the UK this summer.

Soaring standards raise the bar for businesses

A quarter of consumers (25 per cent) say they plan to spend more on experiences and events this year than last year, with this trend even more prevalent among younger consumers aged 18-34 (32 per cent) – while 44 per cent plan to spend the same as last year. A desire to make the most of summer (38 per cent) and wanting to invest in quality time with friends and family (31 per cent) are the main reasons for this increased spend.  

However, businesses will have to raise the bar during the summer period to keep consumers engaged, as a fifth of Brits (18 per cent) say they have higher expectations of experiences this year compared to previous years. Half (50 per cent) of these consumers say that their standards are higher because the experiences they are going to are more in line with their passions and interests, while over a third (35 per cent) say that they expect better value for money as events cost more than they used to.

Rich Robinson, Head of Hospitality and Leisure at Barclays, said: “Brits are increasingly swapping shopping bags for shared moments, and we expect spending on experiences to reach a new peak this summer. Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime holiday or a birthday celebration with friends, we want our experiences to be bigger and better than ever before, and our standards have never been higher.”

“From top-notch sports events to fast-growing companies changing what it means to have a great night out, British businesses are evolving to ensure they’re not just one-hit wonders – they keep crowds coming back for more.”

Dr Peter Brooks, Chief Behavioural Scientist at Barclays, said: “The excitement of buying new furniture, a TV or smartphone tends to disappear relatively quickly as those items get normalised into our everyday lives. However, the memories created from spending on experiences, especially when it’s with family or friends, has been linked to longer-term boosts to happiness as the memories created live on when we reminisce about those shared moments.

“We’re witnessing a long-term behavioural shift that will see experiences like travel and live entertainment take up a greater share of our discretionary spending, certainly this summer but also into the foreseeable future.”

Steve Moore, founder and CEO of Flight Club and Electric Shuffle, said: “Now more than ever, people are looking for a memorable experience when getting together with friends. A typical pub or bar night out no longer cuts the mustard.”

“Flight Club and Electric Shuffle were built by friends, for friends, and our mission has always been to make groups of friends everywhere ridiculously happy. It’s this mentality that feeds into everything we do. From stories of the night’s best moments delivered directly to customers' phones and service at the push of a button to striking interior design and a constantly refreshed menu. Delivering a truly memorable experience is all in the detail.”

‘Experience Economy’ activity

Average (mean) consumer spending this summer

Holidays abroad


Holidays in the UK


Live entertainment (e.g., concerts, theatre shows)


Attending sporting events as a spectator


Attending festivals


Community events (e.g., local fairs, markets)


Beach or seaside trips


Eating out at unique or memorable restaurants


Outdoor activities (e.g., walking, hiking, camping)


Culinary experiences (e.g., food festivals, wine tasting)


Cultural outings (e.g., museums, exhibitions)


Amusement activities (e.g., theme parks, zoos, aquariums)


Trips to the cinema


Relaxation and wellness (e.g., spa days, retreats)


Competitive socialising (e.g., bowling, darts)


Creative and craft activities (e.g., pottery, painting)





Notes to editors

The full ‘All to play for: winning with experience’ report will be published at 08:00 on Wednesday 26 June 2024.

1The consumer research in this press release was carried out between 17th – 22nd April 2024 by Opinium Research on behalf of Barclays. There were 2,000 respondents, providing a representative sample of UK consumers by age, gender, region, and income group.

To calculate total consumer spending, Opinium Research asked respondents to estimate how many times they plan to do different experience-led activities this summer (from June to September), and how much money they expect to spend on each visit, in order to calculate average (mean) consumer spending per activity per person this summer. Those numbers were then multiplied by the UK adult population (53,646,829 – Source: ONS) to calculate total spending per activity, and then the activities were added together to reach a total figure of £178bn.

The difference between the mean (£3,322) and median (£701) calculations is due to activity and spending being concentrated in a relatively small number of consumers, likely due to differences in disposable income. The mean averages out that concentrated spending across the broader UK population, whereas the median excludes it.

Please note that the £178bn estimate for total consumer spending does not equate to an uplift for the UK economy. For example, money spent on holidays abroad may benefit the economy of the holiday destination. Similarly, money spent on concert tickets for international artists may go to the artist’s home nation.  

2CEBR methodology:

Using official data sources, such as the Annual Business Survey, CEBR presented estimates for the gross value added (GVA) produced by the Experience Economy over time. The annual growth rate in Experience Economy GVA was then compared with growth for the UK economy as a whole and broader sectors. CEBR built a regression model to analyse these growth rates to assess the extent to which Experience Economy growth is related to changes in other economic variables. Combining the results of this model with existing CEBR forecasts, this allowed CEBR to produce projections for the future performance of the Experience Economy. Further detail on the methodology is available on request. 

3The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Morocco is $152.38bn (£119.75bn). Source: International Monetary Fund, April 2024.

4Across its issuing and acquiring businesses, Barclays sees nearly 40 per cent of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, which provides us with unique insight into UK consumer spending. The consumer card spending data used is from Barclays’ issuing business – i.e. Barclays debit card and Barclaycard credit card transactions. It relates to the period April 1st 2022 – 31st March 2023 vs April 1st 2023 – 31st March 2024.

5The consumer research for the Barclays ‘Swiftonomics’ report was carried out from 16th - 23rd April 2024 by Opinium Research on behalf of Barclays. There were 200 UK adults who have secured or are trying to secure Taylor Swift tickets, providing a representative sample of UK consumers by age, gender, region, and income group. Opinium Research calculated how much the average attendee expected to spend to attend the concert (£848.30) and this number was multiplied by the total capacity across all 15 UK tour dates (1,175,470) to reach a total prediction of £997,151,201.

For more information, please contact Oliver Palca at oliver.palca@barclaycard.co.uk

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About The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR)

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