‘Funflation’ Hits American Pocketbooks

Concert fans
Concert fans | Image by Melinda Nagy/Shutterstock

Like so many other things, the cost of entertainment is increasing, but that is not stopping consumers from shelling out money for fees and admission to live concerts, theme parks, movies, and other forms of entertainment, according to a recent survey.

Last year, the cost of admission and fees to live concerts and entertainment events rose 27.4 %, outpacing the price increases in food, medical services, and other expenditures, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditures Survey. That trend, dubbed “funflation,” has continued in 2023, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Likewise, ticket prices and fees for amusement parks and other attractions have increased. Walt Disney World in Florida announced last week that it is increasing the cost of parking and annual passes, and Disneyland in California is raising the prices of its date-based tickets. These moves follow price increases instituted by both entities last year.

According to a survey conducted by Qualtrics for Intuit Credit Karma, 46% of Americans are spending less on entertainment than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those who have cut back on spending, 58% cited increasing costs. Another 37% said they could not afford the rising cost of entertainment, while 31% reported finding more economical ways to spend their leisure time, such as streaming videos or TV, spending time with friends and family, going outdoors, or playing video games.

Still, the entertainment industry appears to be thriving. Based on data gathered in the first eight months of 2023 by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Americans are on track to spend an estimated $95 billion this year on tickets to live entertainment, movies, and sporting events, up 23% from last year, as reported by the WSJ. That figure is 12.5% more than Americans spent on entertainment in 2019.

Over half of Americans (57%) have admitted to making sacrifices in other areas to afford tickets to a live entertainment event. Such sacrifices include cutting back on dining out, taking on additional work, borrowing from savings, or selling personal belongings or clothes. Additionally, 20% of those surveyed said they had incurred credit card debt to fund their entertainment expenses, as reported by Qualtrics for Intuit Credit Karma.

Gen Z consumers spend more on recreational diversions than other age groups, with 90% spending money each month on entertainment and 19% spending $300 or more each month. Gen Zers (35%) are purportedly the most willing to go into debt to afford entertainment, followed by Millennials (33%), Gen X (16%), and Boomers (6%).

According to a recent survey conducted by the LendingClub Corporation, 61% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Among this group, 10% attribute their financial struggles to nonessential spending. The survey also found that nonessential spending was a common cause of budget problems for Gen Z consumers, with 29% of respondents stating that it contributed to their financial distress and 15% citing it as the top factor.

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