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Siena Poll: New Yorkers optimistic about holiday season

"Belief in Santa and Bitcoin, hmmm, is an odd combo this season but perhaps we’re seeing a changing of the guard,” according to Siena College Research Institute Director, Don Levy.
Composite image by Dave Lucas
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"Belief in Santa and Bitcoin, hmmm, is an odd combo this season but perhaps we’re seeing a changing of the guard,” according to Siena College Research Institute Director, Don Levy.

A new survey shows New Yorkers don’t plan to let the pandemic dampen their holiday spirits.

Siena College Research Institute Director Don Levy says after a rough 20 months getting through the pandemic, the poll finds New Yorkers’ holiday spending plans parallel last year's numbers.

"43% of us, the single largest group, indicate that they plan to spend about what they did a year ago," said Levy. "37%, over a third, say they're going to spend less, and only 17% say they're going to spend more. Interestingly, women stand out a saying that they are really going to hold the line this year on spending. How much are we going to spend? Only 18%, that's down from 32% last year, that's a large drop. We'll spend $1,000 or more, and a third of us say that at least we intend to spend $300 or less. Certainly spending among those workers making $50,000 or less looks to be down. Over half of lower-income New Yorkers say they're going to keep their spending under 300. Nearly 40% of those New Yorkers may be $100,000 a year or more, will spend over $1,000. Online spending looks to be down a little bit from last year. The pandemic influence spending patterns far more last year this year, but still nearly half of us 47% will spend at least half or more of our shopping online."

Levy says New Yorkers are all too aware of national "supply chain" problems.

"3/4 of us say that we've heard some or a lot about it. So consequently many, 70%, say they're going to shop earlier but 56%, a majority say that they're actually, because of the supply chain problems, they're actually going to spend less," Levy said. "Still, over half are more inclined to shop in person, and a handful, nearly a third 31% say that the supply chain disruptions are going to lead them to spend more."

What are survey respondents looking forward to? Levy says spending holiday time with family and friends.

“Over half of us say that we're looking forward to eating, and eating some more, decorating the house and cooking for the holidays," said Levy. "We're a little bit more mixed on going to holiday parties: 42% looking forward, 21% say they're dreading it. Similarly, the wrapping gifts, 47% say ‘that's something I really want to do.’ But a quarter of a say, ‘that's something about the holidays that I dread.’ And in terms of how much I'm going to spend on gifts for the holiday season, we're split 35% say I’m looking forward to it, but equal percentage, 35% say I'm dreading it. And what's dreaded the most? It's those fruitcakes. More people are dreading eating fruitcakes than are looking forward to it.”

Levy notes that belief in Santa among New Yorkers is at 34%, up from 26% last year. That may be comforting, since New Yorkers see their finances as being worse than they were a year ago, but at the same time, a growing number believe in the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies.

“Belief in the legitimacy of Bitcoin as a currency scores higher than Santa 44% of us sixty 1% of those 18-34 believe the Bitcoin is a legitimate form of currency and looking ahead to next year, 76% of us say that we're hopeful the 2022 is going to be a better year than ‘21,” Levy said.

Read the complete survey results HERE.

The SCRI survey of Holiday Spending Plans was conducted November 8-16, 2021 by random telephone calls to 395 New York adults via landline and cell phones and 400 responses drawn from a proprietary online panel of New Yorkers. Respondent sampling via phone was
initiated by asking for the youngest person in the household. The overall results has an overall margin of error of + 3.8 percentage points including the design effects resulting from weighting. Telephone sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample of landline (from ASDE Survey Sampler) and cell phone (from Dynata) telephone numbers from within New York State weighted to reflect known population patterns. Data from the telephone and web samples were blended and statistically adjusted by age, race/ethnicity, gender and party to ensure representativeness.

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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