Positive Holiday Forecast Putting a Jingle in Sports Organizers’ Pockets | Sports Destination Management

Positive Holiday Forecast Putting a Jingle in Sports Organizers’ Pockets

Nov 26, 2023 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Recession, shmession. The holiday spending forecast is strong, and that means lots of participation in themed tournaments.


The National Retail Federation (NRF) delivered its annual holiday forecast, predicting sales during November and December will be between 3 percent and 4 percent higher over 2022, similar to pre-pandemic levels. The NRF expects sales to range between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion, representing record levels.


“Consumers remain in the driver’s seat, and are resilient despite headwinds of inflation, higher gas prices, stringent credit conditions and elevated interest rates,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “We expect spending to continue through the end of the year on a range of items and experiences, but at a slower pace. Solid job and wage growth will be contributing factors this holiday season, and consumers will be looking for deals and discounts to stretch their dollars.”


That means incentives such as early registration prices will be well received. And here’s another interesting point: Almost one-quarter (23 percent) of holiday shoppers say they plan to give a gift of experience, in line with last year and up from 19 percent in 2021. Experiences include travel, and sports event organizers are ready to see that as a prediction that will put a jingle in their pockets.


To back that up, Forbes says that the holiday travel forecast is particularly strong, with nearly half of all American planning some form of travel between Thanksgiving and mid-January. And its likely that a good portion of that travel is to attend a sports event.


Holiday themed events keeping visitors in town“We are still seeing that consumers value experiences and if they're going to spend money, they'd rather spend it on things like travel and entertainment, and that their intent this holiday season is to absolutely travel,” Jonathan Kletzel, airline and travel practice leader at PwC U.S., told Travel + Leisure in this article:

The report shows that 47 percent of consumers will hit the road and that they are spending 12 percent more — or about $510, on average — than they did last year, which Kletzel attributes to rising airfare prices and inflation. Millennials are the biggest travel spenders this holiday season ($670), followed by Gen X ($611) and Gen Z ($447).

However, not everyone is jetting off to a faraway destination. In fact, almost 60 percent of U.S. consumers plan to take a trip within their state, while 18 percent will travel outside of the country. This year, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean are trending among international travelers.”


In terms of holiday travel tournaments, soccer leads the way, with more than 11 million events listed in December alone. Lacrosse events number about 5 million. In both cases, there are indoor and outdoor tournaments.


But wait! There’s more. Tennis has nearly 11 million events. Pickleball is coming on strong, with close to 100,000 holiday-themed tournaments. And while bass may have moved into hibernation mode in many areas, fishing is still going strong, with ice fishing events starting to appear on the calendar.


5K races, whether ugly sweater runs or anything else, are king of the calendars, though. Almost every city in the U.S. is offering some form of event, usually designed to attract those who might not normally lace up their sneakers, and to encourage them to stay around and (economic impact alert!) do some shopping in local malls, stores or downtown areas. Running in the USA tracks races and shows an enormous number of 5Ks the first weekend in December, with a dropoff in subsequent weeks.


Additionally, cities work to keep tourists around for at least a night or two by offering events such as light displays, Main Street shopping experiences, parades and other promotions.


What fills the space when nobody wants to travel but everyone wants their kids out of the house? Instructional camps in soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, basketball, football and just about every other mainstream sport. After all, a weekend camp (here is an example), whether it runs for a morning, afternoon or all day, allows parents to do some shopping, gift wrapping or anything else, while children are out of school for their holiday break.


The bottom line is this, though. Money is coming in. People plan to travel. We’re in a better position than we were last year, and definitely better than we were the year before that.


And in terms of the holidays, that’s something worth celebrating.

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