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Household Spending On Trips for Entertainment, Restaurants and Sporting Events

If you operate or plan to develop a tourist-based entertainment venue or restaurant, it is important to understand trends that impact both overall market potential and the optimal target of customers.

This graph shows changes to and the relative amount of average household spending during out-of-town trips for food, alcohol, entertainment and admission to sporting events.

When people are on trips, they spend over five times as much on food and drink as they do on both entertainment and attending sporting events combined. However, over the past decade there has been a decrease in average household spending in all categories. The declines have all been long-term trends not attributable to the Great Recession that started in December 2007 with the exception of spending on alcohol. The decline in alcohol spending, after a continued rise from 2001 to 2006, appears to have been caused by the recession. (We believe the earlier rise in alcohol spending is less attributable to people drinking more, but rather to them buying premium drinks.)

However, looking at averages never tells you the whole story. It’s like describing a roller coaster by its average height. The devil is in the details.

We dug deeper into spending data and found the following when we examined spending by households with different incomes:

With the exception of liquor expenditures, there is a direct correlation between household income and the declines in spending. The households with the lowest incomes cut back their spending during trips the most.

When we looked at each category of spending by each quintile income group over time, we found that with a few exceptions the declines were long-term trends that started before the recession. The two exceptions were entertainment spending on trips by the highest 20% of households by income, whose decline started with the recession, and alcohol spending by all quintiles, which also started with the recession. Average household spending for food, alcohol, entertainment and admission to sporting events on trips by the lowest 80% of income households decreased by 27% over the decade whereas it only decreased by 4% for the 20% highest income households.

The net effect all these changes is that the households in the highest quintile of incomes (2010 incomes $92,000+), have increased their aggregate share of all spending by all households for food, alcohol, entertainment and sporting event admissions on trips from 42% in 2000 to 49% in 2010. Those 20% of high-income households now spend almost as much as the entire other 80% of households.

We believe the implication of all this is that out-of-town venues need to make sure they offer upscale experiences in facilities with good ambiance and quality food and beverage offerings to capture the higher socioeconomic market that now represents the greatest slice of spending (and based on long-term trends, will probably grow in share in the future) from a overall decreasing size pie of household expenditures on trips.

About Randy White

Randy White is CEO and co-founder of the White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group. The 31-year-old company, with offices in Kansas City, Missouri, has worked for over 600 clients in 37 countries throughout the world. Projects the company has designed and produced have won seventeen 1st place awards. Randy is considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on feasibility, brand development, design and production of leisure experience destinations including entertainment, eatertainment, edutainment, agritainment/agritourism, play and leisure facilities.

Randy was featured on the Food Network's Unwrapped television show as an eatertainment expert, quoted as an entertainment/edutainment center expert in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and Time magazine and received recognition for family-friendly designs by Pizza Today magazine. One of the company's projects was featured as an example of an edutainment project in the book The Experience Economy. Numerous national newspapers have interviewed him as an expert on shopping center and mall entertainment and retail-tainment.

Randy is a graduate of New York University. Prior to repositioning the company in 1989 to work exclusively in the leisure and learning industry, White Hutchinson was active in the retail/commercial real estate industry as a real estate consultancy specializing in workouts/turnarounds of commercial projects. In the late 1960s to early 1980s, Randy managed a diversified real estate development company that developed, owned and managed over 2.0 million square feet of shopping centers and mixed-use projects and 2,000 acres of residential subdivisions. Randy has held the designations of CSM (Certified Shopping Center Manager) and Certified Retail Property Executive (CRX) from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

He has authored over 150 articles that have been published in over 40 leading entertainment/leisure and early childhood education industry magazines and journals and has been a featured speaker and keynoter at over 40 different conventions and trade groups.

Randy is the editor of his company's Leisure eNewsletter, has a blog and posts on Twitter and Linkedin.

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