Mish Shedlock’s readers often supply him with solid and detailed anecdotal evidence about what is going on out in the real world. Here’s an email he received from one:
I don’t care what the media says, the economy is getting worse and I can see it in ticket sales and even questions about tickets.
Last February, most of my ticket sales were requesting "Best available" and big concerts sold out within days or weeks, typically a month or more before the concert. Concerts sold out from the front (highest ticket price) to the back.
By mid summer, I began to notice that the buying was changing. Concerts sold from the front and from the back but the middle seats were selling last. I have only voices to gauge age but it seems to me that the 40-55 crowd had begun to disappear.
By early fall, the cheap seats were selling out first. This pattern started first in Chicago, spread throughout the midwest, then over to the Carolinas, south to Florida and across to Arizona.
Since December, the most often question that I get is "If I buy at the venue, do I have to pay the service charge?"
Ticket agents charge a ticket fee of 10-15% on each ticket and a year ago I never had a single complaint or a question about the ticket fee.
If you are buying 6 tickets with a $12 fee each, I can see it making better sense to spend an hour and go to the venue, but if you are buying 2 tickets and having to drive for a hour, park and stand in line, is it really worth it?
Throughout all this, the college crowd consistently bought without complaint. That has changed since Christmas. Now, the college kids are trying to beat the $6-8 ticket fees.
Concert sales in the Northeast and California almost always sold out, but now California is beginning to soften, especially with the younger crowd. The deterioration has been slow, but constant for a year and I don’t see any signs of improvement.
Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly did a show at Westbury in January. So did Bill Maher. Westbury is on Long Island and the theatre is small, perhaps 3000 seats. It is theatre in the round and sometimes they run it as half round.
The Beck/O’reilly show started out 1/2 round and sold out in minutes. People called for hours wanting tickets. Then Westbury decided to go full round the next day and the rest sold out within an hour. People called for weeks wanting tickets.
On the other hand, the Bill Maher show only sold about 70% of the 1/2 round at Westbury. The show sold so poorly that they closed the back seats and moved people forward to make it look better.
I sell Westbury all the time. Most of the people that call me are older, retired, and almost all have American Express cards and AOL e-mail addresses.
I would have thought that the results would have been that Bill Maher would have sold out and the Beck/O’Reilly concert not sold out. I was just amazed.