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2/3rds Of New Yorkers Polled Say Pandemic Won't Ruin Their Holiday

Dave Lucas

In the midst of a pandemic, two-thirds of New Yorkers are planning on a different Thanksgiving this year.

The annual holiday survey, released by the Siena College Research Institute, finds 59 percent of New Yorkers, down from 71 percent a year ago, are somewhat or very excited about the upcoming holiday season. Pollster Don Levy:

"When asked about Thanksgiving plans, it's not surprising that overwhelmingly New Yorkers say that Thanksgiving is just going to be different this year. 41 percent of us say that we're going to gather with friends and family who don't live with us to celebrate the Thanksgiving. But over half of us say we are not going to gather with our friends and family. And only one out of seven of us say that we're going to travel this Thanksgiving on what typically is one of the most highly traveled days of the year. And interestingly, a new wrinkle this year that I think many of us have got used to – 40 percent of us say that we're going to jump on the online application like Zoom and conduct our Thanksgiving or at least a greeting with friends and family via Zoom over this holiday. So a new Thanksgiving tradition appears to be born."

Health officials have urged people not to travel or gather in large groups for the holiday. 64 percent of those polled tell Siena 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.

"Very few of us, low numbers in the area of no more than 10,12, 14 percent say that they would be comfortable going to traditional events like a drop-in party in the neighborhood, a work party, or other types of events like that. So it does appear that holiday parties are going to be cut way back this year."

When it comes to gift-giving, 68 of respondents say COVID will not be the Grinch that ruins their holidays.

"In terms of shopping, we see a tremendous uptick in New Yorkers' plans to shop online this year. So we see as though New Yorkers are going to probably not be visiting brick and mortar retailers as much as they have in the past. We now have 38 percent, that's a doubling from last year of New Yorkers who say they're going to do at least three-quarters if not all of their shopping online. So clearly, that's another impact of the coronavirus on our holiday spending."

Levy adds participants were asked to look forward to next year.

"2020 is a year that many of us I'm sure would like to put in the rearview mirror. We said 'how hopeful are you that 2021 will be a better year than 2020 has been' - overwhelmingly, 85 percent are at least somewhat hopeful that 2021 will be a better year. And certainly we all hope that that is indeed the case."

The survey reached more than 800 New Yorkers and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

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.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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