UKC

/ Climbing wall price creep

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Jack_F - on 02 Feb 2018

I know this has probably been done to death on other threads but noticed a definite price creep at my local wall. 

There is of course Grimers way of doing things but does anyone else feel like they are being priced out of training at the wall? 

Jim233 - on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack_F:

Not sure what the price hike has been like elsewhere but Glasgow Climbing Centre recently raised their monthly to £32.50 from £28.50. A fairly stiff rise in percentage terms but still pretty good value in my opinion, if you go once a week or more. The flip side is that most places seem to be £10 - £14 if you pay as you go, which I'd agree is getting to be on the steep side.

Regular price hikes is the norm under our current government/economic model. S'all about the profit...

1
jezb1 - on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack_F:

My local wall is £125 for 3 months. Brilliant wall but feels almost Londonesque in it's pricing.

Jack_F - on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to jezb1:

Not living in London also but currently 3 month price for mine is £200. I've just checked against some of the London walls - 45 pm (min 3 months) so 135 for 3 months... Am I missing something?

fromsinkingships on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack_F:

I'm a pretty frugal guy and I in no way deem those prices expensive for unlimited access to a gym.

The gym I go to is £34 a month and as I go about 12 times a month, at the very least, I think it's an absolute bargain. The previous gym I went to was £120 for a 3 month pass and I thought that was a very fair price as well.

 

 

 

kirsten on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to fromsinkingships:

Westway (London) annual membership £399 - can't really argue with that, and there was a cheaper option which I think was 329. 

 

Jack_F - on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to fromsinkingships:

£34 a month seem perfectly reasonable - I'd have no objection paying this or even £44. However for one month it's gone up to £79Pm.

Obviously there are a number of options for direct debits or prepaid passes but they all still come at a very high price in my eyes. Especially as I wouldn't want to commit to the year in case of injury or the weather getting better.

I can understand increasing the one off entry fee but increasing the monthly tariff by such a margin (£14 in this case) seems, in my opinion, unreasonable.

I know it's a business but what good is a business if customers can't/ won't pay?

sheppy on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack_F:

Given that in most cases a wall entry fee will allow you to climb from opening until closing time it actually seems like a total bargain!

Walls have huge overheads just to comply with necessary health and safety and are certainly not "rolling in it" in many cases.

mik82 - on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack_F:

My local wall cost £6.50 per entry in 2006, and it's £8.00 now.

I often go to bigger/newer walls elsewhere in the country and these are a bit pricier - £10-£12 per go, £60 for a month's pass, but a lot cheaper if you buy a full 12 months. I don't feel this is expensive given the facilities they have.

At the end of the day, prices will always creep up due to inflation. I can't imagine running a wall is a massive source of profit, although £200 per 3 months does sound a bit steep.

Post edited at 14:58
HakanT on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack_F:

White Spider in SW London is $45 per month on Direct Debit. I go 2-3 times/week, so I think that's a good deal. They raised prices by a couple of quid recently which seemed reasonable.

I went to VauxWall yesterday for the first time in a while. Their price has gone from £10 to £12.50 for a single session. That felt a bit hefty to me.

Offwidth - on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack_F:

I think wall prices have declined if anything  against inflation except for this period of austerity where costs are increasing for walls but disposable income of customers is pretty flat. Blame your government, not the climbing wall. I think the best modern walls are all a little too cheap... I'd like to see the staff paid a bit better.

Post edited at 17:05
15
FactorXXX - on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> I think wall prices have declined if anything  against inflation except for this period of austerity where costs are increasing for walls but disposable income of customers is pretty flat. Blame your government, not the climbing wall. I think the best modern walls are all a little too cheap... I'd like to see the staff paid a bit better.

Blimey, you appear to be saying that walls are too cheap, but the Government is to blame for them being too expensive.
Surprised you haven't managed to get a mention for Brexit in there as well...

1
Offwidth - on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to FactorXXX:

I think they are a still a bit too cheap but have got more expensive for most this decade. Brexit might hit walls as many customers are europeans. Happy to please ;-)

FactorXXX - on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> I think they are a still a bit too cheap but have got more expensive for most this decade. Brexit might hit walls as many customers are europeans. Happy to please ;-)

That's more like it!

philhilo - on 02 Feb 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

I know one operation that was hit by Brexit.  Before they opened they ordered all their holds and boots from Europe. The Brexit vote happened, the pound fell and it all cost them 25% more. Sadly they didn't last a year.

stp - on 03 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack_F:

Maybe worth checking to see if your local wall is signed up to MoveGB. For £10 per week you can go everyday if you want. But it also covers entries to lots of other fitness related stuff like gyms, Yoga, crossfit etc.

robbie Warke - on 26 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack_F:

Hi Jack, 

Unfortunately prices will continue to increase. With costs becoming sky high for every business due to minimum wage increase, business rates, interest rates etc all increasing businesses (and a climbing wall is only another business) have to cover costs and very few make a significant profit or even break even. A busy wall is not necessarily a profitable one.

Most climbers are not business people and just want a facility designed for them at a price that they can afford, often unsustainable. We all, as climbers have a dream of owning our own wall where we can hang out, train and let our mates climb for free, this is unfortunately not possible in the modern climate. While there are some walls that operate on low margins, often with financial help or  paying staff on zero hours contracts or cash in hand these will become few and far between in the future.

The key for every climber is to support your local walls, not just the one closest to you or the newest and shiniest, to ensue that climbing communities thrive into the future. There is too much cut throat backbiting to sustain smaller and independent facilities.

Walls unfortunately do not make money from dedicated climbers, most survive on instructed groups, kids clubs, family climbing sessions and new users. This is often not the environment that training climbers want and it drives them on to their home built garage boards, making it even more difficult to justify providing facilities for dedicated climbers.

I can see a lot more closing in the future as the Olympic frenzy fades away.

Support your local wall folks and pay the prices they charge, believe me, unless its a well established London wall no one is becoming a millionaire from the £8 you pay to spend hours crushing the problems that cost real man hours and expense to maintain.   

3
rocksol - on 26 Feb 2018
In reply to robbie Warke:

What Olympic frenzy Yawn!

1
Offwidth - on 27 Feb 2018
In reply to robbie Warke:

I think its a bit more complex than that; certainly indoor bouldering  seems to be gaining popularity but top facilities have closed, most notably The Edge.

robbie Warke - on 05 Mar 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Walls have certainly (like many small business) been left behind by inflation, most walls still charge well below inflation increases. Walls are actually very cheap for the services received and staff pay does not often reflect the level of experience and responsibility that instructors and floor staff have.

2
robbie Warke - on 05 Mar 2018
In reply to rocksol:

Major companies like Red Bull and Adidas sponsoring climbers, youth teams increasing, climbing 'coaches' instead of instructors, more TV coverage of competition climbing.....need I go on? 

1
Jaytaylor - on 06 Mar 2018
In reply to Jack_F:

Yep.

After 10+ years of climbing at and supporting my local wall, the price creep has gradually gotten to the point where it's just too expensive to go anymore 

£60 for a monthly pass... 

Total bloody rip off.

 

 

4
Al_Mac - on 06 Mar 2018
In reply to Jaytaylor:

So a gym costs on average £35-45 a month in most cities, with outliers of £20 for something very basic, and £100+ for 'health clubs'. No specific staff required, other than a few qualified instructors. Maybe two staff per gym, at most? Or even at some of the cheap ones there's zero supervision. Basic ongoing maintenance is required of the machines but in the grand scheme of things, that amounts to very little. Contrast that to a climbing gym where you need to have qualified staff, setters, and replace the holds etc as they become damaged and/or worn. £60 is more than I spend at my local but even if I was spending £60 I would gladly pay it for the amount of time I spend in the facility per month. Maybe I'm just not enough of a dirtbag climber to truly appreciate how overpriced these facilities are at less than £15 per week...? I know that for me it probably amounts to about £1.25 per hour, which will fluctuate with how much I'm getting outside instead, but that seems entirely reasonable given all the operating costs involved in running a climbing centre.

2
Fakey Rocks - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to stp:

> Maybe worth checking to see if your local wall is signed up to MoveGB. For £10 per week you can go everyday if you want. But it also covers entries to lots of other fitness related stuff like gyms, Yoga, crossfit etc.

You might be one of the lucky ones who signed up a couple of years ago, ... It's £80 a month now

 

Btw, how come sad face is red these days, and happy face green? 

Post edited at 06:46
fromsinkingships on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Jaytaylor:

What was the price point when you could still afford to go?

thepodge on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Cloverleaf:

> I know that for me it probably amounts to about £1.25 per hour, which will fluctuate with how much I'm getting outside instead, but that seems entirely reasonable given all the operating costs involved in running a climbing centre.

Harder to manage and less beneficial to the wall but if you could pay by the hour I think that would be better for some. 

We're in a financially tough age and the business model of offering discounts to those that can stump up the cash in advance doesn't help those who really need the discount. 

I've no doubt that wall prices are justifiable, its just they can be quite a lot.

Andy Johnson on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Fakey Rocks:

> It's £80 a month now

Seems on the high side. FWIW my local wall (Awesome Walls Stockport) is £40/month and I'm happy with that. Is this a North/South thing?

 

Offwidth - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to thepodge:

Apert from the business side where cash up front is very useful. I don't see huge profits coming from many climbing wall businesses and quite a few have struggled and some closed.

Fakey Rocks - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Andy Johnson:

> > It's £80 a month now

> Seems on the high side. FWIW my local wall (Awesome Walls Stockport) is £40/month and I'm happy with that. Is this a North/South thing?

Talking specifically about Move GB prices in Bristol ... £80 a month for unlimited climbing wall access, (+ other stuff, yoga etc) but that includes both the Bloc and Red point now, ... , whereas in the past I think u could do 1 or the other , the move gb Bloc price was £60, and red point £40, and I think there was a time b4 that when either or both were just £40 too.

Post edited at 20:48
thepodge on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Apert from the business side where cash up front is very useful. I don't see huge profits coming from many climbing wall businesses and quite a few have struggled and some closed.

And also many have opened. No one said they were making huge profits, just that prices are getting to the point close to unaffordable for some. 

Dave Kerr - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to Jim233:

> Not sure what the price hike has been like elsewhere but Glasgow Climbing Centre recently raised their monthly to £32.50 from £28.50. 

I could be wrong but I remember the GCC monthly pass being £40 about 15 years ago so £32.50 seems pretty reasonable!

Offwidth - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to thepodge:

People keep saying it but I simply don't believe that is the case for all but a few poor climbers who have to travel a long way to a decent wall.  The walls I've used did deals for the local poor super-keen climbers like giving them work (or even the odd free entry). Most climbers I actually know who moan about wall entry costs have no affordability issues at all, they are just mean.

Wall workers, in contrast, are in a job and that is their current livelihood. They are part of the low pay generation facing big problems in their future in housing, pensions etc. They dont tend to moan but can have genuine affordability issues in their lives... spare a thought. I can't think of a wall that acts on market principles to maximise profits, nearly all the entry price goes on real costs or new investment.

Post edited at 08:51
The Ex-Engineer - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to Jack_F and others:

The point has been made by others but basically Britain is just increasingly expensive. Especially in England, we are a small crowded country with artificially high land prices which filters through to everything else including the (badly needed) recent and future increases to the minimum wage.

Eating out, going to the pub, visiting the cinema and most other sport and leisure activities are all getting more and more expensive. Climbing walls are probably lagging slightly behind in increasing prices and although many walls are extremely profitable they are certainly not engaged in rip-off pricing.

Unfortunately, whilst climbers always like to complain about something, I don't think there is yet enough political momentum in favour of the likely controversial measures that would actually appreciably reduce UK housing costs and hence the spiralling cost of living in this country.

 

2
Offwidth - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to The Ex-Engineer

Can you define what you mean by 'extremely profitable' and  give some examples?

thepodge on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

You're saying the only hard up people at a climbing wall are the staff? Some of their coats cost half what my last car did. 

Can you not understand the difference between value and expense? A yearly pass is good value but very expensive. Some people cannot afford a yearly pass so are effectively punished for having less money. Compared to other indoor pastimes climbing might be good value but that doesn't stop it being expensive for some, it's just less expensive than something else. 

Offwidth - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to thepodge:

I'm saying most climbers I know moaning about expense can easily afford it and hardly anyone mentions the staff on low wage so it's mostly insensitive hot air. I'm also saying that many walls actively try to help those genuinely struggling.  In the community I'm not unusual in helping out those who struggled to afford to climb by waving petrol charges and providing all the gear. Some clubs, (especially Red Rope) have clear systems to help affordability.  In this admirable community a minority are mean minded and pretty selfish.

nutme - on 09 Mar 2018

It's all about supply and demand as capitalism must be.

Vauxhall in London transport zone one is tiny bouldering only gym and asks for £70 per month while it is always packed like barrel with herrings. For gym owners it's a game of setting price to maximize profit. They even offer a discount for entries early in the mornings from 6 AM to utilize premises the most.

While Castle gym in North London doesn't open until noon on workdays. Because there's not enough clients in suburb.

Rob Grant - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Jack_F

In most cases when ive felt ripped off, with hindsight,  it was for one of two reasons:

1) I was stupid enough to be ripped off.

2) I was too stupid to understand what I was paying for.

1
Tomtom - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to thepodge:

> You're saying the only hard up people at a climbing wall are the staff? Some of their coats cost half what my last car did. 

Maybe their employer has stuck a deal with a manufacturer of expensive coats, and can offer heavy discounts on such items as a 'benefit' of working there. Trying to make up for the minimum wage they're paid.

How about some wall users happily pay the roughly 70% mark up from cost to manufacturer price to rrp on these coats, yet moan about paying 9 quid to climb.

1
thepodge on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Tomtom:

How about even with discount they are more expensive than high street brands but thats getting off the point.

1
Toerag - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to sheppy:

> Given that in most cases a wall entry fee will allow you to climb from opening until closing time it actually seems like a total bargain!

Only if you have the time or desire to climb all day. I'm normally knackered after a couple of hours.

 

Offwidth - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to thepodge:

Its not beside the point at all. You are implying they are well off from their coats which might be heaviliy discounted, given as a 'uniform' or might be their own but were a gift rather than puchased. Their salaries are low and for some a primary reason for the work is so they can climb for free. This include some of the very people you express concern about, who have been helped to climb cheaper by the wall being given some work.

Graeme Alderson on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Tomtom:

Or maybe their employer has struck a deal with a manufacturer to provide staff uniforms and as often climbing walls are big cold spaces (especially up North) the uniform includes nice warm coats ;-)

1
The Ex-Engineer - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Can you define what you mean by 'extremely profitable' and  give some examples?

I won't comment on information not in the public domain, but a quick root around on the companies house website shows, for example, that a central London bouldering wall (relatively new, but which has expanded fairly rapidly with a name near the start of the alphabet) recently paid £15k in corporation tax, suggesting either a fairly healthy profit or ineffective accountants.

Publicly available accounts are notoriously unhelpful in terms of profitability and turnover, but information on numerous other climbing wall companies is easily available if you're sufficiently curious.

My impression is that those walls that are most profitable tend to be investing heavily (to the benefit of climbers) rather than just returning cash to the owners. I doubt any climbing wall owner has retired to the Caribbean off the backs of hard-working climbers, but if anyone knows otherwise, I'd be interested to know.

However, the economies of London and the South East compared to the rest of England are increasingly divergent, so what I see and hear about my local walls is likely very different to the situation elsewhere (as already described by one climbing wall owner in a more rural location).

Offwidth - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

Since when was 15k corporation tax indicating extreme profitability in terms of any meaningful company average, it's barely above the average for a small company (source is a bit old but incomes haven't moved much since then  and it is a good read as it shows why cutting stafff in HMRC is a bad idea in times of austerity) 

http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2011/06/09/only-33-of-companies-in-the-uk-pay-tax/

 

Post edited at 15:55
thepodge on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

It's totally beside the point, you're deflecting the argument.

Your solution to finding wall prices increasingly expensive is to either shut up (because they are secretly rich) or to get a job at a climbing wall... The same place you've said has no money and pays nob all. 

You do realise people with good jobs can still find it financially hard?

Offwidth - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to thepodge:

Of course I understand about affordability, thats my background as a kid, and where my sympathies still lie. As such I'm also very aware such people usually just get on with it... as I said, the majority of moaners I know can afford walls, can afford guidebooks can afford to buy shoes in an independant shop that provides us all a fitting service. Attacks on commercial arrangements in climbing need to be fair as we rely on these companies/organisations for their services.  In the case of walls I don't see a jot of evidence that more than a small minority of specialist dedicated walls are exploiting climbers. In the case of genuine need I've seen many positive interventions (usually part-time work for free access). These specialist walls know most of their customers have faced real terms reductions in disposable income since the 2008 crash and have to balance that against significant increases in real costs, when they set entry prices. Sometimes even well intentioned walls make pricing mistakes on the detail but they usually respond well when arguments are made as to why. I also wanted this thread to think about the people who work in the walls that have done the donkey work to provide climbing that has given us so much joy, from my first commercial visits at  The Foundry,  through the wonderful local facility of Nottingham Climbing Cemtre to the huge range of fabulous facilities we have today. I'm also greatful to forward looking University managements and Councils of the 70s/80s for providing utilitarian climbing facility heabily subsidised or often for free (all we had indoors in my early days). Hence, after all this big picture context with some discourse on dumb detail like staff down jackets I'd argue it's you who is deflecting.


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