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Leisure Spending Remains Steady

Consumption: The total dollar amount has not dropped despite the sluggish economy, but buying patterns are different, a survey shows.

September 09, 2002|JEFF LEEDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Consumer spending across the entertainment industry is holding steady amid an economy that remains sluggish, according to a new survey.

Consumers in the U.S. spent an estimated $35.1 billion in the first half of this year on music, movies, books, theme parks and other leisure outlets, according to data from Nielsen Entertainment's entertainment index.

"What we really see is there seems to be always a percentage of someone's available dollars that will be spent on entertainment," said Rob Sisco, general manager of Nielsen's Retail Entertainment Information division. "We're not seeing any evidence of fewer dollars being spent."

The data are compiled from 3,000 completed monthly telephone and Internet surveys given to U.S. consumers ages 12 and older.

The surveys are weighted according to geographic balance and demographic information.

Although consumers lavished about $17 billion each quarter of this year on books, CDs and other items, the data show that some forms of entertainment appear to be taking dollars from others. For example, the survey suggests that DVD and home video sales and rentals are cutting into music sales, Sisco said.

The survey found that rentals and sales of DVDs and home videos captured 23% of the entertainment market for the first six months of the year--the biggest category.

For the six months ended in June, books ranked as the second-most-popular entertainment category, claiming 15.6% of entertainment spending, or $5.5 billion. Music ranked third, capturing 14.9%, and movies garnered 10.2%, according to the survey.

Other Nielsen data show DVD and video sales rising while music sales are slumping.

"The evidence we see is people are still going to stores to buy a CD, but instead of buying a second CD, they're picking up a DVD," Sisco said.

Despite the steady performance of spending in the entertainment sector during the first six months of 2002, the survey shows, there are some indications that the cloudy economic climate is weighing on consumers.

"Political events and the current condition of the country's economy are pressuring consumers to be more careful with their expenses, driving them to avoid impulse purchasing," according to Nielsen's analysis.

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