We all know that it’s sensible to save our money for a rainy day, but no one can deny that a bit of retail therapy is a wonderful thing. Once all of our necessities are covered, it’s nice to engage in a bit of leisure spending. Recent reports show that leisure spending has continued to rise over the past decade and is on track to follow the same pattern in the coming years. One of the areas that is really starting to take off is online spending in the form of online shopping and entertainment.
Online shopping has grown into a massive industry over the course of the last decade. A serious percentage of that growth is due to Amazon. Since it was founded in 1994, Amazon has grown from a tiny book retailer based in Jeff Bezos’ garage to the most valuable brand in the world, worth a staggering $415bn. Online shopping is convenient – especially when delivery and return shipping services are free – and allows people from small towns or rural communities to access goods that they might struggle to find in their local stores. It has opened up a whole world of leisure spending opportunities for many.
Online casinos are another area that have consistently seen growth in spending. Slots online are particularly popular, as they are easy to play and online casinos offer a wide variety of slot games with themes to appeal to any audience. Since online casinos don’t have to worry about how much floor space each slot machine takes up, they can offer a huge number of games. The other reason why online casinos have become so popular in recent years is how convenient they are – you can play hundreds of different slot games from anywhere and now that live online casino games are possible, you can play your favorite table games as well. While having a day or weekend out at the casino is still a popular pastime for many, being able to play a few slots while stuck in the doctor’s office waiting room or enjoy a game of blackjack while waiting for the kids to finish football practice is a much more accessible type of gaming.
Streaming movies and television shows has become a hugely popular leisure activity. The only problem is with so many different streaming services, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out on the best new releases or that hot new show. This leads to spending more and more money on a number of different streaming services. Netflix dominated the market for years but it now has a lot of competition. Not only do most major networks have their own streaming services, there are also streaming services for special interests. Mubi has movies for fans of foreign and art house films, Criterion Channel is the Criterion Collection’s streaming library, while Shudder only streams horror films. With so many streaming services available, it’s no surprise that spending on them has been increasing.
Alongside film and television streaming services are music streaming services. Sites such as Spotify do offer free versions but most people are willing to pay a small subscription fee in order to avoid ads and have more control over their music and playlists. Similarly, most podcasts are free but access to archived episodes or bonus content often requires a monthly subscription. Though these are all generally quite small expenses, they do add up.
Mobile gaming is a huge market. Many games operate on a freemium model, which means it is free to play the game but the user must pay real money to access certain content or progress faster. As many of these games are designed to be highly addictive (who hasn’t enjoyed a few too many games of Candy Crush or Best Fiends?) spending money to improve the experience is understandable. Spending on in-game purchases has already surpassed video game purchases and projections show that the market value of in-game purchases could reach $75bn by 2025. Spending on mobile games has definitely contributed to the rise in online leisure spending.
Alongside more money being spent on leisure online, digital payments are becoming more common as well. With so many options to pay digitally – from using PayPal and Venmo or other payment apps to cryptocurrencies – using cash seems like more and more of a hassle. Whether or not digital options of payment will completely replace physical methods is yet to be seen but it is a possibility.