Lesbians and gay men are increasingly being wooed by major firms anxious to take a share of the booming 'pink pound.

Gay spending power, previously of little interest to most large businesses, has been targeted by firms anxious to maximize their income during recessionary times.

Increasingly, companies are aware that the gay community, which has played a significant part in Soho's revival as an area to eat and shop, wields considerable spending power.

A Gay Times survey found that 90 per cent of readers regularly spend money at bars, clubs and the cinema, even though more than half of them are also home owners. Figures compiled by the pink paper showed about three-quarters of readers work full-time. Firms such as Virgin, Absolut and Smirnoff vodkas and The Gap are homing in on these high-earning, dinky (dual income no kids) consumers through adverts in the gay press and promotions in bars and clubs.

Charrington, the main sponsor of Pride, runs a dozen long-established gay pubs around London, with another due to open this month. All are among the brewery's most profitable.

A spokesman said the gay venues represented a small but important part of Charrington's business. 'They are very successful in terms of turnover, the gay community tends to drink a lot sociably, and the most popular drinks at our gay pubs tend to be the expensive brands like bottled lagers.

The spokesman added that with more gay drinking venues being opened all the time, Charrington is keen to highlight its links with the community.

'By being involved with Pride we hope that gay people will appreciate that we are putting something back.