The Taylor Swift effect brings $140m windfall to Sydney and Melbourne

A sold-out run of Taylor Swift shows in Sydney and Melbourne could trump Australia’s entire summer of cricket, as venues experts predict the pop star’s seven-concert extravaganza will inject more than $140 million into the economy.

Just over a month out from Swift’s arrival in Australia, local tourism providers are already reporting a spike in activity during the period of her stay. Melbourne hotel rooms are already almost 80 per cent sold out and more than three times busier than usual.

Taylor Swift performs in Buenos Aires in November during The Eras Tour. AP
The trend is in line with an international phenomenon, dubbed the Taylor Swift Effect, where sold-out runs of the singer’s 151-show The Eras Tour has injected hundreds of millions of dollars into local economies even as consumers tighten their belts.

The US Federal Reserve mentioned the show and its impact on pumping Philadelphia’s economy in one of its eight annual reports, and analysts have also noted its inflationary effect.

Early estimates compiled by Venues NSW, which will host Swift at Sydney’s Accor Stadium for four shows from February 23, predict that fans will splash out more than $60 million in merchandise sales alone.

All up, the tour is expected to deliver an economic windfall of more than $140 million to the national economy.

“We can’t wait for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour to arrive … it’s the first time we’ll see four back-to back sold-out concerts at Accor Stadium,” Venues NSW chief executive Kerrie Mather said.

“[It] will create significant economic benefit for NSW, support thousands of jobs and attract large numbers of interstate and international visitors.”

In Victoria, where data by hospitality analytics firm STR showed Melbourne hotel rooms were already almost 80 per cent sold out from February 16 over the three days Taylor Swift will be performing, Visit Victoria boss Brendan McClements outlined the economic multiplier effect.

“When people attend a major event, they also spend their money on hotels, restaurants, retail or travelling across Victoria – generating new money for goods and services which delivers economic benefits beyond the immediate spend … we’re expecting Taylor Swift’s concerts to deliver a tourism boom for our state,” he said.

Tickets for the show start at $80, the most expensive A Reserve sells for just under $380 and VIP packages top out at $1250.

Amid a weakening economy and growing evidence that consumers are becoming more and more cost-conscious and tightening their belts, economists say it is evident that people are still prepared to shell out for concerts and other experiences.

“People are pulling back spending because of rate rises and inflation, but they are shifting their consumption into services and other experiences,” ANZ economist Adelaide Timbrell told The Australian Financial Review.

Average spending of $284 per person

“Ticket sales for sporting events, for Taylor Swift … all of these things are telling us that if people want to spend money, they’re more likely to choose a service or an experience over a retail product right now.”

In Sydney and Melbourne, conservative estimates show that nearly 600,000 people will attend the concerts over the seven shows, with an average spending of $284 per person.

More than 100,000 fans and their families will travel from interstate for each concert, each spending about $185 a day on accommodation and other expenses including dining out and transport, over stays expected to last about two to three days.

The event is also expected to be a big international drawcard.

More than 10,000 international visitors are predicted to come from overseas and, on conservative estimates, they will spend just under $500 a day during longer-lasting stays.

Cumulatively, the economic benefit is on par – and likely to supersede – that of a summer of cricket during an Ashes year. A five-day Test match during an Ashes year including the Boxing Day and New Year Tests brings in more than $100 million to each state’s economy. Despite the early estimates, Venues NSW staff believe the Swift tour will surpass that mark.

In the US, her concerts have had an economic impact of more than $US5 billion ($7.4 billion), according to the US Travel Association, which said Swift fans – more commonly referred to as Swifties – injected more into local economies than the Super Bowl.

“That amount of spending is on par with the Super Bowl, but this time it happened on 53 different nights in 20 different locations over the course of five months,” the association stated in a release.

Fans travelling to see the concerts shelled out on average $US1300 on tickets, travel and merchandise to attend The Eras Tour, the association said, which also far outpaced usual concert spending.

In May 2023, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia made note of the Eras tour in one of its eight yearly updates, calling the month its strongest for hotel revenue since the onset of the pandemic, “in large part due to an influx of guests for the Taylor Swift concerts in the city”.

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