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New research shows out-of-home entertainment & arts participation on the decline

Over the past few years our company has undertaken detailed research and analysis to identify trends impacting out-of-home location-based leisure and entertainment venues. Some of that analysis has been based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) and its quarterly interview survey and its diary survey. The CEX documents both spending and participation by households in different consumer products and services.

We recently dug into the Bureau of Labor Statistics detailed American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data to see what interesting information and trends it might reveal. ATUS data is based on over 136,000 nationally representative interviews conducted from 2003 to 2012 that examined how, where, and with whom Americans spend their time. The ATUS data is for individuals age 15 and older, unlike the CEX, which is for households.

Not surprisingly, when we looked at the data on the time Americans spent at location-based entertainment venues between 2003 and 2012, it showed the same trend we have found in the CEX survey data –participation at community-based arts and entertainment venues, including the movies, performing arts, museums and entertainment venues, is on a long-term the decline. The ATUS data shows that on an average day the percentage of the population age 15 and older attending one or more of the entertainment-cultural venues in 2012 declined by almost one-quarter (23%) compared to 2003. For those attending, their total time spent per average day increased by 4%.

ATUS entertainment arts time:participation '03-'12

As you can see, this is a long-term decline that started back in 2005 with a possible sign of a turnaround to an upward trend in 2012. The downward household participation trend that the CEX data shows started in 2004 and is a less severe decline. The different between the starting dates and the severity of the declines between the two surveys is probably attributable to the CEX looking at the entire household (it only takes one person in the household to count that household as spending/participating), whereas the ATUS data is based on individual person behaviors.

This definitely looks like bad news for the away-from-home entertainment-leisure industry. But remember, the trend shows averages at a macro level, not micro data that looks at a particular type of venue and a particular target market. Our company’s research is consistently finding that high quality venues that offer affordable luxury, premium (what is called High Fidelity) experiences for the higher socioeconomic market (and the not so high socioeconomic market that is occasionally looking for aspirational and splurging experiences) are gaining market share and thriving, while the mediocre venues are suffering.

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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