Entertainment spending forecast to increase

Americans appear ready to move on from worrying about the recession and renew their leisure and entertainment spending in line with pre-recession trends according to Mintel’s latest report, American Lifestyles 2014.

“In 2014, it appears that America has finally stopped holding it collective breath, waiting for the other economic shoe to drop,” says Fiona O’Donnell at Mintel.

Mintel predicts the greatest gains over the next five years will come from spending on nonessentials including leisure and entertainment (+28.5%), vacations and tourism (+27.3%), technology and communications (+25.2%) and alcohol on premises (+23.7%). These increases will be driven by a combination of both increased household spending and population growth. Factoring out projected population growth of 3.3% over the five years means household expenditure growth in these categories is projected to exceed the inflation rate.

Leisure and entertainment is the star performer. More than half the surveyed respondents say they spent more or about the same amount on leisure and entertainment in 2013 compared with prior years. Young adults, Millennials aged 18-34, are most likely to say they are spending more in this category. True to the moniker of digital natives, Millennials spend half their entertainment budget on audio-visual and video gaming equipment. 57% of Millennials say they prefer to spend their downtime in front of an electronic device. They are also more likely to spend their leisure time physically alone, especially the 18-24 age group. Also, owing in part to social media and the ability to share instantaneously with others, young adults are placing a higher value on experiences as opposed to some of the more traditional purchases of their parents’ generation. A desire of experiences over stuff, coupled with a record number of Baby Boomers reaching retirement with more free time on their hands, means that leisure and entertainment spending should outpace overall spending into the future.

“Consumer spending for leisure and entertainment will continue to increase over the next five years. Growth will be impressive with spending in the sector expected to outpace all others as recessionary cutbacks fade with memory. The importance of affordable play-time is recognized as a priority for Americans – regardless of demographics or financial standing,” says Fiona of Mintel.

Along with a renewed optimism in the economy, Mintel also found that Americans are focused on self improvement in 2014 with top goals including increased family time (88%), healthier diet (88%), exercising (87%), getting household finances in order (84%), achieving a better work/life balance (82%) and taking care of personal appearances (81%).