From 007 to Brighton Pier … relaxed Covid restrictions fuel UK leisure boom | Travel & leisure

The pent-up public demand to seek out entertainment as Covid restrictions lifted has fuelled a boom in leisure pursuits, with cinemas and bowling alleys hitting pre-pandemic highs, while Brighton Pier has recorded the best week in its history.

The James Bond juggernaut continues to lead the post-pandemic cinema recovery with Odeon, the UK’s biggest chain with more than 112 sites, selling more than 1m tickets in the first week since No Time to Die’s premiere.

The chain said the film, which became the most successful movie at the British box office since the pandemic began after just three days, has now notched up the highest attendance since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019.

A pedestrian passes a James Bond 007 logo above the entrance to Burlington Arcade in London. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

A significant sign of encouragement for the movie industry is that about half of those who have watched Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007 are visiting a cinema for the first time since the pandemic began.

Odeon said that so far Bond fans had eaten about six tonnes of pick ‘n’ mix and drunk enough soft drinks to fill the tank of the super spy’s Aston Martin DB5 nearly 3,000 times.

Shares in the owner of Brighton Pier surged more than 16% on Friday after the company issued a “significant” upgrade to full-year profits and revenues thanks to a summertime boom in business fuelled by people holidaying in the UK and families looking to splash out with savings built up during lockdown.

“It is good to be able to report a new record,” said Anne Ackord, chief executive of the Brighton Pier Group. “The final bank holiday week of this summer was the first time in the pier’s history that it achieved gross sales in excess of £1m over a single week.”

The group, which also owns some mini-golf sites and Lightwater Valley theme park in North Yorkshire, said revenues were up 44% on pre-Covid 2019 levels for the 13 weeks to 26 September.

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Hollywood Bowl, the UK’s biggest tenpin bowling operator, said revenues were up 29% on 2019 levels in the period since reopening on 17 May and 30 September.

The leisure group, which owns 61 bowling sites and three mini-golf venues, said huge pent-up demand in the school holidays for “great value family entertainment” resulted in record revenues of £20m in August, up 50% compared with the same month pre-Covid. Hollywood Bowl’s annual revenues to the end of September hit £75m, well ahead of the company’s previous forecast of £51m.

“Those consumers who were fortunate enough to keep their jobs and avoid either unemployment or the furlough scheme have both savings and a desire to get out and about and spend their money,” said Russ Mould, the investment director at investment firm AJ Bell.