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Utah economists expect big rebound in leisure spending over Memorial Day weekend


SALT LAKE CITY — As Utahns hit the road for the Memorial Day weekend, economists with Wells Fargo predict they will also be ready to spend some cash.

"We really seem to be putting the pandemic behind us," said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo. "People are feeling better about things; they're feeling better about going out. A lot of folks have the means to go out and spend and go out to restaurants, or go take a long weekend somewhere."

Now that pandemic restrictions have started to ease, Vitner and fellow Wells Fargo economists write that there is a pent-up demand for experiences, like amusement parks, sporting events and other recreational services.

"Our forecast calls for more than four and a half years of typical spending packed into the next nine months," read the "Recreation Renaissance" analysis from the Wells Fargo Economist Group. "It's not any old rebound, it's an earthquake."

By the end of 2021, the projection puts spending on services $700 billion higher than it was during the first quarter of the year.

"Ample personal savings stocked up over the past year due to forced thrift throughout the pandemic, as well as generous stimulus support, leaves households in a strong position to spend, while the desire to get out and again participate in experiences has perhaps never been stronger," the forecast went on to say.


During the pandemic, the report contends that Americans saved money, helped in part by a series of direct stimulus payments from the federal government.

"There was no way to send that relief to just the people who needed it," Vitner explained. "So it was sent out to people that needed it, might have needed it, didn't really need it, and because of that, we had this huge build up in savings."

Vitner said the tremendous increase in spending is coming earlier and more suddenly than what was expected, and that the Memorial Day weekend will showcase the demand for road trips and activities.

"We won't be back to pre-pandemic levels this weekend, but we're going to be the closest that we've been since the pandemic hit us," he said.

As spending on recreational services ramps up, economists said they were watching to see if households cancel any video rental and streaming services that benefited from people staying at home.

"The average American household now subscribes to four different video streaming services, and as households are set to spend less time at home after the pandemic, it remains to be seen if any of these services are cut," the report said.

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