Cost-of-living, rising ticket prices, and transport strikes are denting OOH entertainment appetite
January 26th, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

Cost-of-living, rising ticket prices, and transport strikes are denting OOH entertainment appetite

A YouGov study reveals that rising ticket prices and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis is denting Britain’s appetite for out-of-home entertainment options.

Nearly two-fifths of Britons say they are participating in out-of-home entertainment activities less often now than before the start of the pandemic because of worries about cost of living or because they have less spare income (38%). But around one in six (16%) are put off by transport strikes, showing how much these are impacting the entertainment sector right now. 12% remain worried about catching Covid-19.

Out-of-home entertainment refers to activities such as going to the theatre, cinema, museums, galleries, live music, comedy, theme parks, zoos, festivals, escape rooms, art galleries, bowling, opera, and so on.

Over a third of Britons indicate that their reduced frequency of participating in OOH entertainment is a result of ticket prices having gone up (35%). These cost-related factors are compounded by the fact that consumers feel they now have attractive entertainment options from the comfort of their homes. Over a fifth of them say they “prefer watching TV / streaming services instead of going out to see a movie / show”.

A significant portion of Brits are also put off by transport costs (17%) and transport strikes (16%). A similar proportion of them are also simply prioritising other activities such as travel or visiting friends and family (15%), and a similar proportion say they have simply not gone back to the routine of booking tickets and going out (15%).

While the worst of the pandemic seems behind us, health concerns remain a challenge, with 12% saying they are less inclined towards partaking in OOH entertainment due to fears of Covid. An identical proportion are simply less able to go out due to a decline in health or added responsibilities such as working longer hours or looking after children (12%).

Looking at the breakdown of these deterring factors by income group reveals that even among high earners, rising prices and the cost of living remain among the biggest challenges, although to a lesser degree. Among Brits who earn over £60,000 in gross income annually, the rise in ticket prices is still the biggest deterrent (29%) and a quarter of them are put off by general cost-of-living issues (26%). But an equal proportion of them cite the failure to get back into the routine of things as a factor (26%).

Another key finding is that Brits in the lower income brackets can be up to four times as likely as higher income Brits to say they are physically less able to go out. For example, 19% of those who make between £10,000 to £19,999 cite it as a reason compared to only 5% of those that make over £60,000. This is plausibly a partial outcome of lower income earners feeling compelled to put in more hours at work amid the cost-of-living crisis. Meanwhile the highest earners are more likely to say they haven’t back into the routine of booking tickets and going out and that is has become less convenient because of reasons such as they may now be working from home, plus are the group most put of by transport strikes.

Looking at the data by age group, middle-aged Brits are the most affected by price related factors. For example, Brits aged between 25-34 (47%) and 35-44 (48%) are over 15-percentage points likelier than both the 18-24 (30%) and 55+ (31%) groups to say they are worried about cost of living.

On the other hand, Brits aged 55+ are more likely than the other age groups to avoid OOH entertainment options on account of Covid-19 fears (15% vs 3% of Brits aged 18-24). They are also up to twice as likely as middle aged Brits to now prefer visiting more local venues and attractions (12% vs 6% of Brits aged 45-54).

For marketers dealing in out-of-home entertainment, some of these factors may be uncontrollable. Reducing prices might bring in the crowds but will come at the expense of profit margins amid an inflationary environment. But some of the other concerns may be more addressable. Targeted marketing could help them bring crowds who are simply keeping away due to having fallen out of routine, while implementing some form of health measures could help assuage fears of those who stay away due to Covid-19 fears.

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YouGov RealTime Omnibus provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on 22 Dec 2022 with a nationally representative sample of 2,074 adults in Britain (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, political affiliation, and ethnicity and to be representative of all adults in the US market. Learn more about YouGov RealTime Omnibus.