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Our exclusive research into the UK’s experiential leisure sector

A multitude of exciting experiential leisure venues that go beyond traditional food and drink offerings have taken centre stage within the city’s night life over recent years. Categorised as a blend of interactive games and exciting night-time venues, experiential leisure has become a key proponent of social lives in cities across the country, with the UK emerging as the premier market for prime competitive socialising operators. 

In our latest report, Playgrounds of Tomorrow, we build on our My City reports and RETHINKING: The Shape of Real Estate 2040 analysis to explore the following critical questions:

  • What is experiential leisure and how can it be defined?
  • What factors have facilitated the emergence of the experiential leisure sector in the UK?
  • Where are the opportunities for further growth?
  • What value does experiential leisure create for real estate stakeholders?
  • How can experiential leisure be leveraged to complement and strengthen placemaking initiatives?

This analysis allows us to then summarise the nature of the opportunity for the sector as occupiers of prime real estate as well as analyse the risk factors within the experiential leisure sector.


Despite some rental growth in prime retail markets, many are still right sizing their retail footprints. The strong performance of the occupational market in 2023 has reduced vacancy rates in prime retail real estate, limiting available units and increasing competition. However, ongoing adjustments, particularly in regional towns and cities, will continue to create opportunities due to structural changes. Surplus retail space, especially in retail banking, cinemas, and nightclubs, is expected to remain available as requirements evolve.

As the sector matures, leading operators will leverage economies of scale to reduce costs and increase profits. Large operators using modular concepts and franchise models will gain competitive advantages and access prime retail real estate. Early signs show operators paying prime rents and securing prime locations, a trend expected to continue.

The modern classic sector faces risks as consumer interest wanes, requiring significant investment in new concepts and technologies to stay relevant. Those unable to innovate will likely lose out. Mixed-use and blended operators, with their diversified offerings, are more resilient to these risks.



Dominic Bouvet - London
Dominic Bouvet

Head of Retail, UK
London, United Kingdom

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Matthew Ashman - London
Matt Ashman

Head of London Leisure & Restaurants
London, United Kingdom

+44 207 152 5495

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Matthew Englender

Associate - F&B and Leisure
London, United Kingdom

+44 (7814) 787892

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ed bavister
Edward Bavister

Associate, Head of Retail, Logistics and Industrial Research
London, United Kingdom

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