Northern Ireland’s flexible workers are calling time on traditional hospitality and leisure hours
- Northern Ireland’s bars, restaurants and leisure clubs could make a further £191m per annum by adapting opening hours to changing working patterns
- One fifth of workers (20%) are calling for the NI’s food, drink, hotel and gym businesses to change their opening hours
- Demand is being fuelled by almost half (48%) of NI workers who now work extended hours, part-time, flexibly or according to a shift pattern
- 16% of workers expect 24-hour services across the hospitality and leisure sector
As the traditional 9-5 working day becomes less and less common, the times at which people want to go to the pub, grab a meal or work out at the gym are changing. A new report from Barclays shows that although over a quarter of hospitality and leisure businesses recognise this growing demand, opening hours are not keeping up with changes to modern working lives.
The new Barclays Corporate Banking Hospitality and Leisure report, Open All Hours? finds that under half (44%) of Northern Ireland workers now work traditional 9-5 hours, with a fifth (20%) saying they need different opening hours. The report also finds (20%) work long hours and need hospitality services to be open earlier or later. By responding to this demand, across the province restaurants (£40m per annum), takeaways (£74m), and pubs, bars and clubs (£30m) could benefit the most.
Since our leisure time has shifted, a quarter of workers (25%) would like to go to a museum in the evening (between 6pm-11pm), one in ten (10%) film fans would choose to go to the cinema in the small hours (11pm-5am), and almost a third (32%) would like to visit a tourist attraction between 6-11pm. By responding to these changing demands, the UK hospitality sector could benefit from a further £6.75bn1 a year, which equates £191m for Northern Ireland, in increased revenue, according to research from Barclays.
The takeaway service industry is missing out on a £74million order
Takeaway services, on the other hand, have left 30% of Northern Ireland’s workers hungry for more, having been unable to order a takeaway as the business was closed. While digital food delivery services such as Deliveroo and JustEat have provided customers and restaurants with an easy to use platform for home delivery, over one in ten (12%) late-night diners would choose to get a takeaway after closing time (11pm-5am). This opens up the opportunity for takeaway services across Northern Ireland to extend their hours, with customers willing to boost the sector by up to £74m.
Commenting on the report, Adrian Doran, Head of Corporate Banking at Barclays in Northern Ireland, said: “Adapting to the changing consumer demand presents a substantial opportunity for businesses. Our research has shown that leisure operators across Northern Ireland could access a staggering £191m per annum by accommodating their customers’ evolving needs which have been brought on by changing working patterns. While that may be a challenge for some providers, understanding the value of the opportunity makes the prize more tangible.
“The current leisure environment does present a number of challenges for the sector’s businesses; the labour supply is challenged by Brexit, rent increases and food inflation are all set within the context of an incredibly competitive market which is already heavily discounting. However, those that don’t adapt to this type of newly developing consumer demand risk being left behind and in this ever-competitive environment, businesses need to weigh up the value of the long-term opportunity over the cost of the short-term investment.”
Among gyms, sports clubs and hotels for example, over a fifth (23%) of Northern Ireland’s workers would be more likely to use a service if it has an automated check-in/check-out procedure. This suggests that people are more inclined to use services if they know they will be available 24/7.
Pure Gym is one example of an agile business which has recognised shifting demands and adapted its business model to accommodate this changing dynamic. Pure Gym uses PIN-controlled access systems, smart lighting, temperature controls and extensive video monitoring to overcome the staffing issues that deter some businesses from after-hours opening. This has enabled 20% of Pure Gym’s customers to work out during the night.
For services where pre-booking is necessary, online booking is also an incentive as it allows customers to book 24/7. 32% in Northern Ireland say that having the option of an easy to use booking platform would mean they would use hospitality services more often. Receiving notification on their mobile showing services based on their location also makes 13% of customers more likely to choose a service.
Customers in Northern Ireland don’t mind paying over the odds for extended opening hours. Northern Ireland ranks highest with customers willing to pay 2.8% more for cinema with a potential of £12m in additional revenue.
Changing working preferences are adapting how and when we use hospitality services. Customers are looking for both different opening hours as well as continuous access to booking platforms. Although there are barriers to overcome, Barclays research shows there is a £191m opportunity for hospitality businesses that can make the change.