Visitor attractions see membership sales plummet ahead of Christmas because of virus restrictions

Gift memberships for some of the UK’s top attractions are down by as much as 50 per cent, as experts warned Britons have been prioritising shopping for stay-at-home items.

Several tourist hotspots recorded a severe drop off in sales of memberships bought for individuals or as a gift ahead of the vital Christmas period.

Most visitor attractions have been closed for some, or a majority, of the year because of Government lockdown restrictions and social distancing rules.

There have been serious concerns for the future of Britain’s best-loved landmarks and several have pleaded with the public to support them over the festive period.

One way of doing that could be buying a membership for a loved one for Christmas. 

Kew Gardens said its membership sales are down by 49 per cent in the year to October, whie National Museums Liverpool has seen an 11 per cent drop since the start of lockdown one.

Museums in Liverpool have seen a drop

Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Historic Royal Palaces said it has seen a “significant decrease” in gift membership sales, and the Royal Academy has also experienced a drop.

Bernard Donoghue, chief executive of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, said his members have lost money because of Covid-19 and are still “financially vulnerable”.

“This Winter if you can shop with them, give to them, and visit them it would be a way of ensuring that they survive until next year,” he added.

Chana Baram, an analyst at Mintel, said people had been shying away from spending on experiences in a year of lockdowns.

However, it has not all been doom and gloom. ZSL London Zoo and National Trust Scotland have both seen an increase in membership sales, while the Royal Horticultural Society said it has seen a 235 per cent year-on-year jump in sales of gift memberships in response to its Christmas campaign.