Back in late July, CNN advised that as the economy recovered from the pandemic, consumers shifted away from spending on goods to spending their money and time on services and out-of-home experiences. They said this trend put pressure on the leisure sector (us folks) to hire more workers, which means we did our part in creating about the lowest unemployment figures seen in recent times.
This job growth along with a cooling inflation, according to The New York Times, have been making Americans more optimistic about the economy and less stressed about the cost of living in general. All that is great and there’s a whole lot of truth in it. But in our world, the real yardstick of economic health or lack of same is easily found in the cash box. That certainly goes both for street location operators as well as the game center people running arcades and FECs.
It’s well known in the coin-op trade that FECs have been doing good to excellent business practically since the pandemic eased up and the masks came off. Now, according to a survey conducted for RePlay by our Matt Harding (see August issue if you missed it), over two-thirds of responding street location operators expect business to be up over the next year (only 7% think there’ll be a downturn). So, when you put it all together, we’re sitting in a hot spell collection-wise apart from that other hot spell outside the air-conditioned game room.
Any negatives out there (apart from the weather, that is)? Well, that same CNN says that data from the CDC feels that a summer surge in Covid-19 infections may be on, though not as significant as during the past couple of summers. However, a new booster shot has been in the works and may be available as you read this (or latest in October). Looks like the masks may stay in the drawer or the glove box in the car, though this disease is always hard to keep still.
As far as good, new equipment becoming available for the routes goes, the paucity of machines suitable for street stops has become an “age-old complaint” by now, with the majority of operators feeling that manufacturers have tilted toward the game room side of the business in the design department. Besides pricing, another complaint about new goods is rather novel: “Even if you could afford some of the red hot stuff, you can’t fit it through the location’s door.” As the late Gilda Radner used to say on Saturday Night Live: “There’s always something.”