Sofiane Yetto, 29, says he feels like he’s known pop artist Beyoncé his whole life.
He remembers connecting to her music for the first time in the music video of Destiny’s Child’s Survivor on television when he was in middle school. This long-standing connection is how he was able to justify spending nearly $1,000 on a trip to Toronto to see the singer perform, perhaps for the last time, at Rogers Centre.
Tickets for the Renaissance tour alone cost him $500 on Ticketmaster, but he also had to set money aside for train fares from Montreal, accommodation, and food and drinks. On the resale website StubHub, nosebleed seats days before Beyoncé's show on July 8 were valued at $254, while sections near the stage were priced as highly as $4,525.
But for Mr. Yetto, Beyoncé is an artist worth splurging on. Still, generally, he is an avid concertgoer when he is not working his full-time job as an operations team lead in a tech company.
Prepandemic, he used to spend approximately $500 to $1,000 yearly on live entertainment. Now those numbers are around $2,500 to $3,000.
“I felt like I needed to catch up on everything. And I realized that I missed that a lot. You know, going to live music,” said Mr. Yetto.
Mr. Yetto is not alone in his financial sacrifice for his music idols. There is massive demand for concerts these days – take Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour,” which is expected to generate around US$5-billion in economic impact, as shown in a survey by software company QuestionPro.
Demand for Beyoncé's global tour is so high that she is being blamed for driving inflation in certain areas.
Meanwhile, household spending in recreation and culture increased by 21 per cent in the first quarter of 2023 compared to an average of two years leading up to the pandemic, according to Statistics Canada data.
People are spending more to see their favourite artists perform. Average prices for the “Eras Tour” have increased a whopping 103 per cent since Ms. Swift’s “Reputation Stadium Tour” in 2018, from US$125 to U$253, as per data from Pollstar. That’s despite overall prices rising, household debt levels skyrocketing and economists warning of a looming recession.
Experts say this increase in spending is because of a new trend in consumer behaviour referred to as “the Covid hangover,” where people value in-person experiences over everyday goods and services.
James Orlando, director of economics at Toronto-Dominion Bank, compares spending on live entertainment to the travel rush that culminated in mayhem at global airports in the summer of 2022.
He said consumer spending is in a “live for the moments time period.” This is mainly made possible by an economic recipe of job growth, rising wages and a boost in government transfers that led to excess savings during the pandemic.
Many Canadians can afford going to concerts because they are “in better financial standing,” Mr. Orlando said, “but also because they have a perspective where they’re willing to pay up for something right now, even though it’s much more expensive than it might have been in the past – because they want that experience.”
While economists expect spending on goods to fall in the second half of the year, they see spending on services being sustained as a result of pent-up demand post-lockdown, Royal Bank of Canada economist Carrie Freestone said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail.
Another way Canadians are financing live experiences is through credit-card debt, with Gen Zers and Millennials particularly vulnerable to rely on credit cards to make ends meet.
“We’re definitely seeing a higher spend than we would have seen in previous years, especially because people are travelling more to get to those concerts,” said Caval Olson-Lepage, a Saskatchewan-based certified financial planner who works at Collabria Financial, a digital credit payments issuer.
In the last quarter of 2022, credit-card debt in Canada increased by more than 15 per cent from the previous year, according to credit-monitoring agency Equifax.
Nathan Kennedy, a financial influencer based in Hamilton, says that while he doesn’t believe spending on concerts is a generational trend, he thinks many Gen Zers and Millennials are dipping into their savings to consume live experiences.
As part of the younger generation gives up on long-term goals such as homeownership, they are not feeling the pressure of higher interest rates on mortgages, which means they have more funds to spend on entertainment now, he added.
While concerns over a global economic slowdown persist, “your average, let’s say, 24-year-old, 25-year-old, does not care at all about what the economist is saying,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Mr. Yetto summarized the feeling best: “The economy is bad and it’s getting worse and everything but at the same time I just want to enjoy my life.”
While a recession remains uncertain, so far, 2023 has been more like Renaissance: a year of rediscovery of music as well as spending habits.
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