Best Buy’s Beef with Taylor Swift

Why she’s blamed for slower sales

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Taylor Swift may be the darling of the 12-year-old set, but she ain’t no friend to Best Buy — or maybe any durable goods retailer.

According to Corie Barry, CEO of the last remaining consumer tech chain, the millions of dollars consumers spent on the phenom’s Eras Tour were millions lost to Best Buy. Speaking last week at Fortune magazine’s annual Most Powerful Women Summit in Dana Point, Calif., and as reported by Insider, Barry blamed Swift’s lofty ticket prices for taking the wind out of CE sales.

To be fair, concerts are but one aspect of a larger shift in consumer spending, from products to experience, which Barry dubbed “funflation.”  As AVB economics expert Joe Higgins pointed out last summer, “In 2023 consumers ramped up their spending on services — increasing travel, staying at hotels and dining out. That is why our business has been a little soft.”

Speaking to Insider, Columbia Business School professor Brett House attributed the trend to the pandemic, when lockdowns and stimulus checks led to a lot of stir-crazy and cash-rich consumers. Eager to get out in the world again, and already stocked up on TVs, computers, appliances and furniture, Swifties injected an estimated $5 billion into the economy in concert tickets and related expenditures including food, travel, lodging and Taylor Swift merchandise, estimated QuestionPro.

“Funflation, Taylor Swift … those experiences are really where people are willing to pay,” Barry said. “Bigger ticket items in electronics are not right now where people are interested,” which contributed to a 7.5% decline in net revenue during Best Buy’s last fiscal quarter.

But retailers take heart. “There are indications this [trend] is cycling back,” Higgins said, as durable goods orders through August were up five of the last six months. And there’s more good news: Swift’s tour leaves the U.S. in November.

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