Two years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, 72 percent of New Yorkers plan to gather with friends and family outside their immediate home for Thanksgiving. A new study from the Siena College Research Institute finds that 38 percent will travel for vacation. Shopping will also be a big part of the weekend, with three-quarters of New Yorkers planning to buy gifts for the Black Friday holidays. The director of the survey Dr. Don Levy says he spoke with WAMC’s Ian Pickus:
Sometimes I think it’s important to do polls like this because as important as everything is in our politics, when we get to a holiday like this, that’s what New Yorkers, Americans in general, focus on. So what did we find? We found that nearly 3/4 of New Yorkers told us they would get together with family and friends in person for the holidays. So the flip side of that is about 1/4 are not. So about 1/4 are either just getting together with the people they live with, or just aren’t ready to go out for a big holiday gathering yet. About 40% of New Yorkers say they will actually travel on vacation. So, plenty of activity going on the road or in the plane. When we asked people about some of their holiday traditions, we found, I think, some really interesting components. The one tradition that actually scored high, which surprised me a little, was cooking your favorite holiday recipes, beating out overeating by a few points. I think I’m in the overeating category. Although I have spoken to quite a few people who are really excited about the cooking part, and all the aromas and traditions that go with it. Catching up with old friends, 56% of us say it’s something we’ll do on holiday. 57% said they are watching football. We saw a difference between men and women there. 71% of men but only 45% of women say that this is one of the traditions they look forward to. The other one who jumped, of course, is going shopping. 56% told us it’s something they want to do and when we asked them a few more questions about going shopping, one change we’ve seen happen now over the last few years is that the most popular place to shop in this Black Friday weekend will be online on Cyber Monday. Almost two-thirds, 62%, said this is something they would engage in. This number rises to 80% of young people aged 18 to 34. So it looks like those computer keyboards, laptops and smartphones will be clicking away on Cyber Monday. Slightly lower numbers, about 41% say they will visit a local retailer for Small Business Saturday, and only 38% say they will go to a physical store on Black Friday. That seems to have changed a bit with Black Friday deals being offered, not just online, but for a period that extends before the actual Black Friday. Another number that I think is important for all of us to think about at this point in the holiday season. We asked if volunteering to serve a community meal was part of your Thanksgiving tradition, and found that New Yorkers continue to be a generous bunch, 26%, one in four of us say it’s something we’ll do. . That number is significantly higher in New York City at 37% than in the suburbs or upstate, but we continue to see about one in four of us saying that part of my vacation is to be volunteer to help people. who are not as fortunate as they are.
Your survey found that 72% of New Yorkers will meet in person with people they don’t live with. This will be our third COVID Thanksgiving. How does this number compare to other years when there were warnings to join?
That number is certainly up dramatically from where we’ve seen it in the past two years, when we were well below 50%. So we’re back to the new normal, it seems. But still, we see that roughly one in four New Yorkers are either saying not yet or just not to me. We see young people slightly quicker to get together with people outside their family at 76%. For older New Yorkers 65 and older, that number drops about 10 points to 66%. But we are seeing this more and more anyway. But at this point in time, of course we didn’t ask about it, but you have all the different potential complications of worrying about COVID. Does a host require a recent test? You know, so on and so forth. All of these are new social dilemmas that each of us must address or ignore. But overall, we’re seeing that about three out of every four New Yorkers say they’ll get together with people outside of the people they live with.
Now, I know these are separate metrics, but Siena also tracks consumer sentiment on a regular basis. Do the results in this poll about New York’s plans to shop on the closely watched Black Friday Cyber Monday tell you anything about how people are feeling about the economy in New York State?
Well, it looks like there is significant demand for the holiday season. I think you teased it very effectively. We will be pulling consumer sentiment here right after the holidays. So of course we will get a more accurate reading. We continue to see in consumer sentiment that while New Yorkers have concerns about the economy, debt, concerns about inflation and the impact it’s having on their budgets, there still remains a willingness to spend on consumer goods. And of course, we predict that holiday spending will be brisk this year. But we don’t yet have the exact numbers from our survey on whether people say they’ll spend more or less this holiday season than in previous years.