Gen Z opens their wallets as the cost of entertainment rises

  • More than half of Americans (58%) have cut back on entertainment spending due to rising costs. 
  • Gen Z is most likely to spend on entertainment versus any other generation, with some spending more than $300 a month on entertainment (19%). 
  • Gen Z and millennials are willing to take on debt to afford entertainment activities, 35% and 33% respectively. 

It’s been a banner year for entertainment with tours from some of the world’s biggest artists, including Taylor Swift and Beyonce, drawing millions of fans to their shows – but at what cost? Live shows come at a time when entertainment prices are on the rise and consumers are grappling with all-time high credit card debt, sustained inflation and the resumption of federal student loan payments after a more than three-year hiatus. 

According to a study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, nearly half of Americans (46%) are spending less frequently on entertainment than they were before the pandemic. Of those, more than half (58%) say they’ve had to cut back on their entertainment spending due to the rising cost of activities. However, that’s not the case for 43% of Gen Z consumers who say their entertainment spend frequency has increased since before the pandemic. This could have something to do with Gen Z’s affinity for FOMO-driven spending, often influenced by social media. In fact, a third of Gen Z admit to feeling pressure to spend money they don’t have on live events or experiences due to social media. 

Gen Z entertainment spend is growing, no matter the event 

Above all other generations, Gen Z spends the most often on entertainment, which hasn’t changed much from pre-pandemic days. Prior to the pandemic, 93% of Gen Z spent money on entertainment on a monthly basis with nearly one-in-five (17%) saying they’d typically spend above $300 per month on the category. Today, the same holds true with 90% of Gen Z spending money on entertainment each month and 19% spending more than $300 each month on entertainment related purchases. 

Across all entertainment categories, Gen Z’s monthly entertainment spend has increased since before the pandemic — more than any other generation. Here’s a breakdown of events where consumer spend has gone up since before the pandemic: 

My monthly spend has gone up since before the pandemic
Gen Z 


Gen X 

Live concerts42%34%19%11%
Theme parks36%34%17%9%
Theater / Broadway 28%21%11%8%
Movie theaters 43%33%23%16%
Comedy shows23%22%12%5%
Sporting events33%31%16%13%
Carnivals / state fairs30%24%13%9%

Gen Z is the outlier when it comes to increased entertainment spend

Nearly half of Americans (46%) say they spend less frequently on entertainment now compared to before the pandemic, largely due to cost. Of those, more than half (58%) say they are spending less often on entertainment because of the rising cost of other things like groceries, bills and rent. Other reasons consumers are spending less on entertainment include: not being able to keep up with the rising cost of entertainment events (37%), having found more affordable ways to spend their time (31%), no longer being interested in seeking out entertainment events (19%), and not having enough time for entertainment events because of work, child care/family obligations, or other commitments (15%). 

Instead, consumers are looking elsewhere to fulfill their entertainment needs, such as streaming videos/TV (56%), spending time with friends and family (53%), watching traditional cable TV (47%), spending time outdoors (42%) and playing video games (32%). 

Consumers turn to credit and savings to fund entertainment events 

More than one-in-five consumers (21%) say they’re willing to take on debt to afford entertainment activities. Gen Z and millennials are the most likely to say they’re willing to take on debt (35% v. 33%) compared to Gen X and Boomers+ (16% v. 6%). 

More than half of Americans (57%) say they have made some kind of sacrifice in order to afford tickets to a live entertainment event. Here’s a breakdown of lengths consumers have gone to to afford tickets to a live event: 

What have you done to afford tickets to a live entertainment event?
All respondents

Gen Z


Gen X

Borrow money from my savings15%30%21%9%6%
Take on credit card debt20%21%28%19%14%
Sacrifice food or necessities9%19%14%5%3%
Cut back on dining out27%35%33%25%18%
Sell clothes or personal belongings11%20%18%7%2%
Take on additional work15%24%24%13%5%
Borrow money from family or friends9%22%13%5%1%

“Over these last few years, so many aspects of everyday life have become more expensive, and attending events, whether it be a concert or sporting event, is certainly not immune to rising costs,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Intuit Credit Karma. “While we find that many young adults in particular aren’t willing to sacrifice attending events and engagements that they find joy in, some are willing to make financial and personal sacrifices to be able to afford their ticket in. And, there’s no shame in that. As someone who recently attended a Taylor Swift concert, the experience was well worth the cost for me personally. At the same time, consumers should be mindful of their spending so they don’t put themselves in a situation where they are dipping into their emergency savings or racking up high-interest credit card debt they can’t climb out of. Activities like concerts, movies and sporting events will always be around, so best to put feelings of FOMO aside if you feel like attending a certain event could put you over the edge financially.”


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma between September 1, 2023 and September 4, 2023 among 1,006 adults ages 18 and older.