Survey: Fans feel inflation impact; industry may too

By Ryan McConnell, Kantar Sports Monitor

After a disastrous 2020 and a rebound in 2021, those working in the sports industry hoped to be breathing a sigh of relief as 2022 drew near. However, after enduring billions of dollars in losses due to the pandemic, the sports industry is increasingly contending with another unexpected challenge: inflation. Excess consumer demand and rampant pandemic-related supply chain issues resulted in the highest year-over-year rise in prices in 31 years this October, according to the Wall Street Journal.


In a recent survey that concluded earlier this month of 1,869 Americans aged 18 and over, including 1,027 sports fans, Kantar Sports Monitor found that a large percentage of those fans across demographics are already seeing an impact in their spending habits, which could eventually affect everything from ticket and merchandise purchases to youth sports registration.

Inflation worries aren’t new; back in July, 84% of sports fans as part of a Kantar poll indicated being concerned – and 41% very concerned — about “a general increase in prices of the things you typically buy” over the next six months. But as these fears gather momentum alongside rising prices for everyday items like gasoline and food, they’re bound to affect spending on sporting goods, services, or experiences, all of which are firmly in the disposable income category. According to our October/November survey, 32% of sports fans reported having put off a major purchase over the last few months because they were worried about their finances – with vacations (52%), home improvement upgrades (34%), and auto purchases (28%) being the most likely purchases delayed.

As important as recouping lost revenue will be for the sports industry after this pandemic, growth plans may be stymied or delayed if inflation continues to surge. It’s a factor that will likely play a significant role in facets of sports as varied as travel experiences and cable packages. It’s a dynamic the industry should take into account as it plans for the year ahead.

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