Getting Back in the Game

Leisure activities came to a standstill at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and brands are going to great lengths to adjust and continue to conduct business under the current less-than-ideal circumstances. While people are anxious to get out and resume enjoying their favorite pastimes, many consumers are avoiding participating in crowded activities such as attending sporting events, going to movie theaters and taking in concerts until the health crisis is under control.

“Consumers are still wary of getting together in social settings and it will be a gradual reintroduction to leisure activities as we progress through 2021 and return to a greater sense of normalcy,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president and partner of The Ehrhardt Group. “While some generations, such as Millennials, are eager to take the leap into the deep end of recreational activities, other aren’t quite ready to get their toes wet.”

One area where consumers are ready now more than ever to jump back in is restaurant dining. 44% of consumers feel comfortable enjoying a meal at a restaurant – the largest percentage since the onset of the pandemic. Many establishments are offering outdoor dining options, and this is further putting customers at ease with their decision get out and enjoy a meal at their favorite eateries.

We are ready to get back in the game, literally. For the first time since June 2020, more than 20% of consumers surveyed stated that they would be comfortable attending a sporting event in person, according to Morning Consult. Millennials – those ages 25-40 – are the group most ready to fill the stands.

While streaming continues to be a smash hit for at home entertainment, out-of-home activities are back on consumers’ radars. Approximately 25% are reporting they would feel comfortable at a movie theater right now. Millennials came in at 40% while Baby Boomers – those ages 57-75 – are the least ready to grab the popcorn at 17%.

In addition, 30% of respondents are currently in favor of visiting a museum and 24% would be open to going to an amusement park. However, consumers are still hesitant to venture out to a live theater performance or concert.

A SUPER CHILL SUPER BOWL

This weekend, we get to watch Tom Brady play the Super Bowl in his home stadium, the first time a team will have home field advantage for the big game in Super Bowl history. While sports have been anything but the usual “let’s play ball” this season, the NFL persevered and the Super Bowl is a go with more than 186 million U.S. adults planning to tune in to the big game on Sunday, according to the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics’ 2021 Super Bowl survey.

While the game is on, the parties are not with just 28% of respondents saying they will be throwing or attending a party or catching the game at a bar this year.

Regardless of how consumers intend to celebrate the event, 86% of viewers are planning to make purchases for the occasion.

What are the most popular Super Bowl purchases?
• 77% food and refreshments
• 11% team apparel
• 9% televisions
• 7% decorations
• 5% furniture

THE COMMERCIALS ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS THE GAME

Another score for the big game: the highly anticipated commercials. ViacomCBS reports that Super Bowl 55’s advertising is virtually sold out and even though viewer favorites such as Budweiser are sitting on the sidelines this year, new advertisers are happy to fill the air space.

CBS sold ads for as much as $5.5 million per 30-second spot, slightly below last year’s $5.6 million rate, according to Adweek.

VACATIONS ARE BACK ON THE TABLE

It feels like we have been at home for ages. Now, more than one in three Americans feel safe taking a vacation and staying in a major hotel chain according to Morning Consult. Consumers are currently more comfortable with larger chain hotels as opposed to smaller boutiques and home-sharing options. This may be due to pre-conceived notions surrounding cleanliness.

As for when consumers expect leisure travel activities to return to normal – according to Resonate’s COVID-19 and Emerging Trends Report, 42.9% predict it will be September – October 2021 or later before we’re all getting back into the vacation travel game.

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HOW DID WE FIND THIS STUFF OUT?

The Gulf South Index is a cooperative project between The Ehrhardt Group, a public relations, content, issues and crisis firm, and Causeway Solutions, a nationally recognized research and data analysis company, that are both based in the Gulf South.

The Index delves into hundreds of thousands of data points to paint a better picture of how the millions of people living in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle are going about their lives. We want to find out more about how we make decisions, from what we are buying and how we are getting our news to where we plan to travel.

We cannot comment on the methodology of the surveys and research we did not conduct, which is why we do our best to link to the source articles or studies that we share here.