With the latest updated CPI (consumer prices index) basket of goods being made public by the ONS a few weeks ago, the telling changes in items being introduced or removed has attracted a lot of national media attention.
While the removal of virtually obsolete items such as rewritable CDs and DVDs is a no brainer, when it was announced that nightclub fares (or entry fees) had also been taken off the list, the usual narrative around millennials ‘partying less’ began taking shape.
Because the basket as a concept consists of relevant goods and services that are used to measure consumer price inflation, removed items are usually written off because they become irrelevant to most consumers’ regular shops. Thus, today’s rewritable DVD will one day become the equivalent of the phonograph a few decades ago.
So far, the general consensus has attributed the absence of nightclub fares to the millennial narrative – today’s youth who are jobless, houseless and in debt, no longer choose to go clubbing on a night out. Instead they opt for alternatives such as going to house parties or hosting more modest dinners at home.
And while it is true that in the UK, nightclubs have been closing at an alarming rate (figures released this week by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers showed that UK nightclubs have halved in a decade: in 2005 there were 3,144 nightclubs in Britain but now this is down to 1,733), it seems that consumers have adopted higher standards when it comes to choices of in-home entertainment and activities as well – a simple example of this is frozen pizza being replaced with chilled pizza within this year’s CPI basket.
Trajectory’s Global Foresight survey (TGF) which monitors attitudes, values and behaviours in 20 countries around the world shares similar findings in the latest wave of data (from November 2015). As seen below, people in the UK have been going to nightclubs less and less in recent years, with just 44% of respondents saying they take part in this activity regularly, down 10% from 54% the previous year.
We’re often told by marketing departments that millennials do not want to buy ‘things’, choosing to purchase experiences instead, and it is certainly true that those experiences are being delivered to their homes more and more. Our homes are more comfortable than ever before and increasingly are leisure destinations in the way that pubs and night clubs once were.
As patterns of consumption change, it is not hard to imagine that in future, as items like subscriptions for home delivery of specialist services and goods become more and more commonplace, they too will be included in the CPI basket of goods as a new generation moves into its peak spending years.
Although the dropping figures may indicate otherwise, it is not the case that leisure does not occupy an important place in young people’s lives anymore – it’s just that the nature of how it is done is changing, which should prompt us to change the ways in which we track and measure it in the future.