By Scott Borowsky and Frank Seninsky
There is a lot going on in the continued growth of the out-of-home (OOH) leisure entertainment industry since the previous edition of the Buzz Boyz. Here are some of the success stories:
AAMA and AMOA go to Washington to lobby for an increase in H-2B visas to foreign workers who have held them in the past. The Trump administration has just announced that it is now moving ahead to allow an additional 30,000 seasonal workers to return to the United States this summer. This is double the 15,000 that the administration was previously leaning toward. H-2B visas in 2017 had been capped at an annual 66,000 (33,000 summer and 33,000 winter.) Our industry will benefit from this as amusement parks, pocket parks, waterparks, family entertainment centers and other OHH sectors need additional staff and demand often exceeds supply, especially with more companies offering a $15 minimum wage.
An opinion of The Buzz Boyz regarding H-2B Visas would be to make the recipients being taught spoken and written English a requirement for industry jobs that deal with the general public. This could be an on-going educational requirement.
The statistical picture also includes:
• Jobs – Added in April were 263,000 jobs, well above the 190,000 estimated;
• GDP – First quarter 2019 grew at the rate of 3.2% even with a government shutdown period. This was also higher than expected. As a comparison, the European Union (EU) had a first quarter 2019 growth of 0.4%.
• Unemployment – Is at its lowest in 50 years at 3.6%. The news reports U3 numbers and not the U6 that is closer to 7.2% and includes all those who have stopped looking for a job. Note that there are always people who are in transition, meaning they have resigned from a job, moved, and then started looking for a new job, and this accounts for a few percentage points of those who are currently technically unemployed.
• Landlords and Rents – Landlords are still looking for quality tenants and FECs are a welcome tenant. Rents are reasonable and landlords are offering more tenant improvement (TI) funds. Big box spaces are still available as online retail purchases are cutting into physical retail store sales. One of the problems that many existing FECs face is they are stuck with a lease that carries a higher rent than they can afford to pay and some have personal guarantees attached. These FECs have missed the ball and may not be in a strong position to renegotiate, but that should not deter them from trying. However, new FECs can write their own ticket in many cases.
Amusement Expo had their best show in a decade.
The Amusement Expo’s report (by Brian Glasgow, WT Glasgow) to the AMOA and AAMA board of directors showed 179 exhibitors compared to 169 last year, 488 booths sold compared to 430 in 2018 and 50 new exhibitors compared to 42. There were around 2,000 attendees, with more than 500 attending, the Tuesday, March 26 Education Day’s 32 seminars.
According to AMOA President Jim Marsh, “The show was completely sold out. This was the first time in 10 years.” It was noted that there were 10 virtual reality companies exhibiting. And, 600-plus attended the Gala as compared to 450 in 2018.
Bowl Expo 2019 is next – June 24-27 in Las Vegas, Nev., at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.