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Longer working hours increase demand on hospitality sector

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Extended and part-time working hours are driving Yorkshire employees to become increasingly demanding for more flexible hospitality and leisure offerings to fit in with lives, research has shown.

New data from Barclays has shown that more than a fifth of Yorkshire workers are calling for the UK’s food, drink, hotel and gym businesses to change their opening hours, with 17 per cent the region’s employees expecting 24-hour services across the hospitality and leisure sector.

The demand is being fuelled by the erosion of the conventional Monday to Friday 9am-5pm working week, with almost six in 10 Yorkshire workers now working extended hours, part-time, flexibly or according to a shift patterns, Barclays said.

As the traditional 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.

The research is published in the Barclays Corporate Banking Hospitality and Leisure report, Open All Hours? report.

Tony Walsh, head of mid-corporate at Barclays, said: “Adapting to the changing consumer demand presents a substantial opportunity for businesses. Our research has shown that leisure operators across the country could access a staggering £6.75bn 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 for Yorkshire businesses.

“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.”

On average, Gen-Z workers (18-24 year olds) is the age group most frustrated that it cannot access hospitality services when it wants. A third of this ‘on demand’ generation say that they expect 24-hour services, compared to a quarter of millennials and just 19 per cent of 35-44 year olds.

Whilst consumer demand isn’t always being met, satisfaction with the availability of hospitality services varies across the sector. As Britain becomes more health conscious, gyms have been quick to adapt, with almost one in five changing their opening hours.

Leeds-based Pure Gym is one example of a business which has recognised shifting demands and adapted its business model to accommodate this changing dynamic.

Among gyms, sports clubs and hotels nearly one in five in Yorkshire workers would be more likely to use a service if it has an automated check-in/check-out procedure.

Online booking is also an incentive as it allows customers to book 24/7.

Nearly a quarter of Yorkshire respondents 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 16 per cent of Yorkshire customers more likely to choose a service.