Desire to attend events growing among Canadians

Plus, how do sports fans feel about rooting for the home team when there's no one in the stands?

Many Canadians remain skittish about the idea of attending events, even once the COVID-19 pandemic is “no longer an issue.” But new research by IMI suggests consumers’ intentions are moving in a positive direction with respect to certain events and venues.

The seventh wave of IMI’s ongoing consumer sentiment survey, which polled 77,000 people in 39 countries. The research has been going on since the beginning of the pandemic, with this wave going over the last three weeks. The most recent wave shows there’s upward momentum in intentions to attend live concerts, outdoor events and events with more than 20,000 people in attendance.

Between April and June, there’s bene some increased positivity about events like concerts and outdoor events. For example, in April, there was a net score of 0% for people who said they would attend a live concert once COVID-19 was “no longer an issue” (meaning an even number of respondents said they would, and wouldn’t, attend). That’s up this wave to a net positive of 8%, meaning positive responses outweighed negative responses by 8%. Similarly, outdoor events had a net positive score of 20% (up from a net positive of 16%). While events with more than 20,000 people still had a net negative score of 1%, meaning people are still feeling more negative than positive about the idea, that’s up from a net negative of 12%.

In contrast, intentions appear to be moving in the opposite direction for live festivals (with a net +3% saying they would attend in June, down from +7% in April), and for indoor events (at -3%, down from +6%). According to IMI, there were no substantial changes in intentions with respect to live sporting events (+9% in June), charity events (+14%) or community events (+14%).

However, the research indicates consumers may be less eager to return to attending community events: +14% said they would do so when “COVID-19 is over,” while -23% anticipate doing so in six months and +18% in 12 months.

Since April, the report shows consumers’ desire to consume sports content has accelerated. While consumer intentions remained more-or-less unchanged with respect to attending sporting events live (at a net +9%) and watching sports in bars (+18%), more people are anticipating watching sports on TV (net +34%, up from +24% in April) and streaming live sports (+27%, up from +23%).

When asked how likely they would be to watch sports without fans in the stands, the majority of fans (71%) said they would be likely to. “Intention to view is very high,” the report concludes, “with or without fans in the stands.”