As more Americans become eager to return to a pre-pandemic lifestyle, a new Bankrate.com report finds more people plan to attend at least one live event or attraction in the final quarter of the year than in the first three quarters combined.
More than 61% of U.S. adults are likely to attend a public event at year's end compared to 51% in the first nine months of the year, said senior industry analyst Ted Rossman.
Movies lead the way: 34% of adults said they are likely to attend at least one movie in a theater, up from 24% earlier this year. The same is true for amusement parks, zoos, and aquariums (26% vs. 22%), fairs, festivals, and carnivals (28% vs. 21%), live arts events (25% vs 18%), professional and college sporting events (17% vs. 14%) and other public events and attractions (38% vs. 33).
People have been reluctant. Even as people got vaccinated, live events were not the first things they wanted to do. He said they wanted to gather in small groups first.
Even travel has picked up faster than these live events.
"I would say that stadium-type events have been one of the last things to bounce back. But we're finally starting to see that we've turned a corner here. I think late summer, early fall, that was kind of the tipping point," Rossman said.
Among the fully vaccinated who do not plan to attend live events for the rest of the year, 38% said COVID-19 is more likely to be the biggest concern for them compared to the 21% of the unvaccinated with no plans to attend.
The same can be said for movies in theaters (53% vaccinated vs. 28% unvaccinated), amusement parks, zoos and aquariums (43% vs. 26%), live arts events (49% vs. 25%), fairs, festivals, and carnivals (49% vs. 28%), and other public events and attractions (54% vs. 31%).
Rossman said there are more people among the fully vaccinated crowd that are still hesitant. Maybe they're worried about breakthrough infections or they just, by and large, with this behavior, they're just more cautious in general, with respect to the virus.
The report also found a big generation gap. Young adults, by far, are more likely to be attending live events and attractions. Rossman said it looks like age 40 is the tipping point because people younger than that are much more likely to be attending movies, concerts, sporting events, than those older than 40.
The report also found that COVID-19 is much more of a drawback to attending live events than cost. Most people's finances are better now than they were when the pandemic started. They've saved more, spent less, and even paid down debt.
"It's mostly about the health situation at this point," Rossman said.
More and more people attending live events as the year wraps up, actually plays into the hands of the upcoming holidays. Rossman said with so many issues with shipping delays and costs and getting hold of the hottest toys, it might be best to gift someone an "experience." That could be anything like a gift card to a restaurant, concert tickets or tickets to a sporting event.