The average American spent $2,504 on entertainment in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in August 2012. Entertainment spending dropped 7 percent from 2009 as consumers tightened their belts in an uncertain economy. People spent less on concerts, movies and sports events, and fewer visited theme parks, bowling alleys and golf courses. However, at the same time, Americans spent more on home-based entertainment such as cable television, hobbies and pets.
Entertainment Spending and Income
Although $2,504 was the overall average Americans spent on entertainment, averages vary according to a different income brackets. According to the The 2010 Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumers who earned less than $50,000 spent less than $2,000 on entertainment. Americans who earned $100,000 or more spent an average of $5,500 on different types of entertainment, and those with annual incomes of more than $150,000 averaged $7,032.
Spending and Age
According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, entertainment spending also varied according to age. On the low end, people 25 and younger had entertainment budgets that averaged $1,221, and consumers 75 and older spent an average of $1,334. The biggest entertainment spenders were between 35 and 54, who averaged $3,050.
Bundle, a consumer information company tracks entertainment spending separate from money spent on cable television and satellite. According to Bundle, in 2009 the average American household spent $560 for traditional entertainment such as movies, concerts and recreational activities. Spending varied dramatically by location. San Jose, Calif., topped U.S. cities in entertainment spending, with an average of $1,304 per household, Bundle reported. In Boston, which has a high percentage of young, single residents, entertainment spending was $1,257, more than double the national average. Residents of Austin, Tex.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Arlington, Va., also spent more than $100 a month, double the national average, on traditional entertainment.
Shifts in Entertainment Choices
The latest figures from American Express show a 3.6 percent increase in visits to theme parks and natural attractions by affluent consumers in 2011. However, other than that small bump, the company estimated that overall spending on entertainment by consumers in all income brackets was down by more than 4 percent from 2010. Although traditional entertainment spending remains down, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that in 2010 cable subscriptions jumped more than 5 percent, while spending on other, more affordable home-based entertainment such as hobbies, pets and sports equipment, grew by nearly 13 percent.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Consumer Expenditures in 2010: Lingering Effects of the Great Recession
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Consumer Expenditure Survey: Glossary
- Marketing Charts: Consumer Spending on Entertainment Q2 2010 vs.Q2 2011
- Ventura County Star: Although Americans are Cutting Back on Entertainment, Spending is Up When 'Staying In'
Laura Scott has been reporting for Gatehouse Media New England, Essex County Newspapers and other regional publishers since 1997. She won several New England Press Association awards for her coverage of the fishing industry and coastal communities. Scott is a graduate of Vassar College and has a master's degree in American studies from Boston College. She also attended art school in Italy.