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The ‘funflation’ effect: Why Americans are spending so much on travel and entertainment this summer

Taylor Swift fans queue outside Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland, on June 6, 2024. Her fans, known as Swifties, had made the superstar $200 million in Eras merchandise sales as of November 2023.

Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The price of ‘funflation’

Some ticket prices have surged in recent months, according to federal data.

Admission prices for sporting events jumped 21.7% in May 2024 from a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index data. The category saw the highest annualized inflation rate out of the few hundred that make up the inflation gauge. Admission to movies, theaters, and concerts rose a relatively modest 3% on an annualized basis.

The CPI as a whole was up 3.3% in May from a year ago. The index gauges how fast prices are changing across the U.S. economy. It measures everything from haircuts to household appliances.

Why Americans go all out on entertainment

Despite rising costs, 38% of adults said they plan to take on more debt to travel, dine out and see live entertainment in the months ahead, according to a report by Bankrate.

Meanwhile, 27% of those surveyed said they would go into debt to travel this year, while 14% would dip into the red to dine out and another 13% would lean on credit to go to the theater, see a live sporting event or attend a concert — including the European leg of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, Bankrate found.

Taylor Swift performs on stage at Wembley Stadium in London on June 22, 2024.

Kevin Mazur | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

“There’s still a lot of demand for out-of-home entertainment,” Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate, recently told CNBC.

“Some of that reflects a ‘you only live once’ mentality that intensified during the pandemic, and some of that is because many economic indicators — including GDP growth and the unemployment rate — are in favorable shape,” Rossman said.

Younger adults, particularly Generation Z and millennials, were more likely to splurge on those discretionary purchases, Bankrate found.

The problem with Gen Z is that they're 'not frugal,' says Jim Cramer

Although an increased cost of living has made it particularly hard for those just starting out, young adults are taking a more relaxed approach to their long-term financial security, other research shows.

Nearly two out of five Gen Z and millennial travelers have spent up to $5,000 on tickets alone for destination live events, a recent study from Bread Financial found.

And many say it’s well worth it. Rather than cut expenses to boost savings, 73% of Gen Zers between the ages of 18 and 25 said they would ultimately rather have a better quality of life than extra money in the bank, according to another Prosperity Index report by Intuit

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