COVID-19 has upended nearly all aspects of normal life in 2020, so we should hardly be surprised that it will disrupt the holiday season as well. Those hoping that perhaps the holidays would be spared the impacts of social distancing and stay-at-home tendencies will be disappointed, because the third wave of COVID is fully underway nationally as we enter the season.
AAA expects the number of Americans travelling this Thanksgiving week will be down at least 10% from a year ago, and it would be safe to assume that this will hold true for Christmas as well. There most certainly will be a holiday season in 2020 but it will be more subdued, more local, and hopefully, more reflective. This has implications for the commercial side of the holiday season, as our recent followup Holiday Survey indicates.
Consumers Will Spend Less This Year
Shortly after Election Day, we polled a survey of 1,000 respondents, as we did just before Labor Day, to see if shoppers' attitudes and intentions had changed since late summer. Our findings are highly consistent with the earlier survey, both of which reflect our expectation that this holiday season will be uniquely different in several notable ways. Foremost, our survey indicated that, on average, shoppers will be spending less this holiday season— about 4% less overall.
While a majority of respondents intend to spend nearly the same as last year, more than twice as many respondents say they'll spend somewhat/ significantly less (33%) than those spending somewhat/ significantly more (15%). This undoubtedly reflects the financial hardship caused by the economic fallout of the pandemic on those Americans who have lost jobs, income or financial security.
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