Hobby spending down more than 5% says Feds


Americans are spending less on their hobbies according to a new report from the U.S. Commerce Department.

Americans are spending less on their hobbies according to a new report from the U.S. Commerce Department.

The report states that overall spending on hobbies, which includes tabletop and collectible card games, is down 3.3 percent since March and 5.4 percent year-over.

It's a number that sticks out to local game stores that rely on hobby and gaming audiences to keep the lights on.

"Only five percent?" exclaims Domigoj Mitrovic, manager of Great Escape Games in Sacramento, California.

As for the cause, Mitrovic thinks it has less to do with interest among gamers and hobbyists and more to do with a response to the actions of the companies behind the hobbies.

"It kind of picked up in 2021 after the pandemic," he says. "[But] because the big companies -- Games Workshop, Wizards [of the Coast] -- decided to squeeze every last dime out of their customer base, it's definitely had a backlash."

Using the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game as an example, he points out the drastic increase in new releases as well as card variants designed to drive sales, as well as the consumer backlash against the practice.

"There's definitely been more of a thing with customers that they don't want to support Wizards in any fashion," says Mitrovic.

It's a sentiment that gamers, too, seem to share.  Gamers like MTG player Benjamin Rockoff of San Antonio, Texas.

"It feels like a lot of larger games/hobbies care only really for engagement rather than attempting to create a fulfilling experience," he comments.  "In the context of Magic, I think that's resulted in the perpetual hype season/product overload we've been seeing."

It's a trend that Rickoff thinks is causing gamers and hobbyists like himself to simply ignore what's next with their favorite hobbies.

"It's really easy to just tune everything out," he adds.

But not all hobby stores are seeing their sales decline.

Comics N' Coffee, a local gaming and hobby store in Reno, Nevada, that also serves up espresso, tea, and food, says business has never been better.

“We’ve actually seen an uptick in our hobby and comic sales," says co-owner Alex Farside.  “We have solidified our Friday Night Magic here, and that really helps.  Pokémon still does really well."

There is a limit to that success, however.

"We tried to do the high-end collectible stuff...really anything over $500 doesn't move very well," he explains.  "Year-over-year, I see a decrease in comic sales."

If nothing else, Great Escape Games' Mitrovic has definitely noticed one factor over all of the others.

“I think a lot of it is more people getting out of the hobbies than getting into it,” he points out.

And, for local game and hobby stores, it may be a die roll to see where things go from here.

Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.