A discussion on Facebook by parents alerted me to Greenwich borough leisure centre operator Better having steeply increased the cost of swimming sessions in recent weeks. This is after membership numbers begun to drop across the borough with a nine per cent fall seen over the previous year.
I had a look at archived pages to see the difference in cost – comparing current charges with previous fees on Better’s website. Comparing August 2018 to now does show a sizable jump this year. Eltham Centre has increased fees by up to 35 per cent.
For non-members, children’s off-peak swimming prices have increased from £2 to £3.20 just in time for the Easter holidays. Adults have jumped from £3.10 to £3.70 off-peak. Peak prices are up from £3.95 to £5.10.
Membership prices for children and juniors have stayed the same but adults have increased – though to a smaller degree. Pay and Play members see an increase from £2.75 to £3.50 in the peak. Those with a One Card have seen an increase in peak costs from £3.60 to £4.50.
Trying to claw back costs as membership numbers fall through increased charges seems a slippery slope.
In addition, competing with low cost gyms needs to be stepped up. As noted previously when covering membership number reductions, not having basic information such as the monthly cost of gym membership immediately available on webpages is ridiculous. Clicking through a few pages to find basic information is not good design. Many will close the browser. Information needs to be front and centre.
Cleanliness and behavior is also regularly cited by users when I cover the borough’s leisure centres.
Woolwich and Greenwich have been hit hard by low cost gyms. Eltham and Thamesmead are lucky to have seen less competition but they will no doubt arrive soon. Pools are Better’s trump card. Whacking up prices probably won’t help their problems.