NY’ers Less Excited This Year But Say Holidays Cannot be Ruined by Virus

  • Half Plan to Hold Spending Under $500; One Third Will Spend over $1000; Online Shopping Hits New High
  • Nearly 2/3rds Plan ‘Different’ Thanksgiving; Few Will Travel; 41% To Gather with Family & Friends; 40% Zooming on Turkey Day
  • Only 14% to Attend Holiday Parties; Most Comfortable with Gatherings of under 10

Press Release     Crosstabs

Loudonville, NY – Fifty-nine percent of New Yorkers, down from 71 percent a year ago, are somewhat or very excited about the upcoming holiday season according to a new statewide survey of consumers released today by the Siena College Research Institute (SCRI). While 16 percent say that they are more excited than last year, 41 percent are less excited. Sixty-eight percent say that the holidays will be different but that they cannot be ruined by the virus as the spirit of the season will triumph over the pandemic.

“Over a quarter of New Yorkers are coming into the holiday season saying that no matter how hard they try, the pandemic will take the joy out of the holidays,” according to SCRI Director, Don Levy. “But over two-thirds just won’t let the virus be the Grinch that steals the season this year.”

Virtually unchanged from last year, 49 percent plan to spend under $500 on gifts during this holiday season. Nearly a third, 32 percent, up from 21 percent a year ago, plan to spend $1000 or more on holiday gifts. Only 10 percent plan to increase their spending this year while 38 percent are going to spend less and 48 percent plan to spend as they did last year. Thirty-eight percent will conduct at least three-quarters of their holiday spending online this year, double last year’s 19 percent.

“While most New Yorkers are planning to either spend less or hold the line on spending, one in ten are ready for a holiday spending spree as one-third are ready to spend $1000 or more, a figure we haven’t seen since 2007. Only 23 percent plan to shop locally on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday but nearly half will be shopping online on Cyber Monday this year. We’ve seen online spending grow dramatically since 2008 but today with 19 percent doing at least half of their shopping online and another 38 percent doing 75 percent or more, we’ve hit a new all time high,” Levy said.

Forty-one percent say that due to the virus, Thanksgiving will be very different this year, while an additional 23 percent say the holiday will be somewhat different. Forty-one percent will be gathering with friends or family that do not live with them but a majority, 52 percent, will not. Only 14 percent plan to travel to visit family or friends on Thanksgiving.

“For most, Thanksgiving looks to be different this year. Fewer than half are planning to have uncles, aunts and cousins over and only one in seven plans to travel to family meals on what has historically been one of the top travel days of the year. And as so many of us have gotten used to connecting at work or with friends via online platforms, 40 percent of New Yorkers will include a Zoom song, toast or laugh with those loved ones that are usually around the same table,” Levy said.

Only 14 percent will attend holiday parties during the rest of the holiday season while 19 percent plan to host holiday gatherings this year. Sixty-four percent say that they are comfortable attending a small holiday party in a home that includes no more than 10 people, but only 10 percent are comfortable attending a party at a friend’s home where over the course of the evening more than 50 people drop in. Half of New Yorkers say that they are comfortable going to an outdoor event at which people celebrate the holidays. Only 16 percent would be comfortable going to a work party with over 25 people and 26 percent would attend a gathering at a restaurant at which everyone is seated for the entire event.

“Sixty-seven percent, down from at least 70 percent each of the last nine years, plan to put up a Christmas Tree in their home. Similar to the last two years, but down about 10 points from the previous 10 years, two-thirds of New Yorkers will be making charitable donations and only 23 percent, the lowest we’ve seen in 13 years, will be volunteering any of their time this holiday,” Levy said.

“For so many New Yorkers, 2020 has been a difficult year. Today, unfortunately 54 percent think that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is still to come. But two-thirds have vowed to not let COVID-19 ruin the holidays. Belief in Santa has fallen a bit this year to only 26 percent after being at or above 30 percent for nine years. Still, looking to the future, 85 percent of state residents are hopeful that 2021 will be a better year than 2020 has been,” Levy said

The SCRI survey of Holiday Spending Plans was conducted November 4-10, 2020 by random telephone calls to 803 New York adults via landline and cell phones. Telephone sampling was initiated by asking for the youngest male in the household. Telephone sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample of landline and cell phone telephone numbers (both from ASDE Survey Sampler) from within New York State weighted to reflect known population patterns and by education. Data from the telephone sample was statistically adjusted by age, race/ethnicity, region and gender to ensure representativeness. SCRI reports this data at a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 points including the design effects resulting from weighting. The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in NYS. SCRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. For more information, call Dr. Don Levy, Director Siena College Research Institute, at 518-783-2901. For survey cross-tabs: www.Siena.edu/SCRI/research.