2022 is poised to be the “catch-up year,” from constant weddings to sold-out concerts — but the splurge could run dry

Monday, May 9, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |
Fourth wedding in three days (FG Trade/Getty Images)

Fourth wedding in three days (FG Trade/Getty Images)

Three weddings and a bar mitzvah... Dance floors and open bars have prevailed over Zoom ceremonies and seltzer cans. 2022 is shaping up to be the "catch-up year," as Americans spend big on experiences they missed over the pandemic. Inflation has been more persistent than Elon trying to buy Twitter, but consumers have shrugged off high prices, which hit a fresh 40-year high (again).

  • Hawkish: The days of “money printer go brrr” are gone. The Fed started raising rates in March to tame soaring prices. Last week came the largest hike since 2000.
  • Higher interest rates make borrowing pricier (think: credit-card interest) and saving more attractive (think: savings-account yields). Still...
  • YOLO spending: Consumer spending surged 1.1% in March, boosted by demand for international getaways, restaurants, and hotels.

Salmon or short rib?... Too many RSVPs. The "catch up" craze means that all the nixed celebrations are roaring back:

  • Weddings: Good luck finding a venue. 2022 is set to ring in the most nuptials in nearly four decades. Wedding-related indulgences are set to hit $68B, and guests are also spending more. That helps hotels like Marriott, which announced record direct bookings. Meanwhile, Signet and Tiffany's have seen diamond sales surpass 2019 levels.
  • Concerts: From festivals to sold-out Billie Eilish concerts, live music is back. Live Nation said its ticket sales were up 45% from early 2019 levels, and it just posted its best first quarter ever.
  • Vacays: Between spring breakers and summer planners, Booking.com raked in its highest quarterly bookings of all time. Amex saw travel spend double and Visa said summer demand is on fire.

Playing catch-up could fizzle out… The Fed’s betting it can slow inflation without causing a recession, but that’s TBD. If it tightens its belt too aggressively, Americans could tighten their wallets (recession wedding = not ideal). Meanwhile, consumer confidence dipped in April as Russia’s war, China’s Covid crackdown, and swinging oil prices all heightened econ worries. People have already started spending less on online shopping, appliances, furniture, and cars. If high inflation keeps up and savings run dry, they could cut back on experiences too.