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New Yorkers will travel, gather and shop for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner will bring New Yorkers together in 2022.
Ian Pickus
Thanksgiving dinner will bring New Yorkers together in 2022.

Two years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, 72 percent of New Yorkers plan to gather with friends and family outside of their immediate household for Thanksgiving. A new survey from the Siena College Research Institute finds 38 percent will travel for the holiday. Shopping will also be a big part of the weekend, with three-quarters of New Yorkers planning to buy Black Friday holiday gifts. Poll Director Dr. Don Levy spoke with WAMC’s Ian Pickus:

Sometimes I think it's important to do these sorts of polls, because as important as everything in our politics are, when we approach a holiday like this, this is what New Yorkers, Americans in general focus in on. So, what did we find? We found that nearly 3/4 of New Yorkers told us that they're going to be gathering in person with family and friends for the holidays. So, the flip side of that is about 1/4 are not. So, about 1/4 are either gathering simply with the people with whom they live, or they're just not prepared as yet to venture out for a large holiday gathering. About 40% of New Yorkers say that they actually are going to be traveling for the holiday. So quite a bit of activity heading off on the roads or the airplanes. When we asked people some of their traditions for the holiday, we found, I think, some really interesting components. The one tradition that actually scored the highest surprised me a little bit, was cooking your favorite recipes for the holidays, beat out eating too much by a couple of points. I think I'm in the eating too much category. Although I've spoken to quite a few people who are truly excited about the cooking part, and all the aromas and traditions that are associated with that.

Meeting up with old friends, 56% of us say that that's something that we're going to do for the holidays. 57% said that it's watching football. We saw a difference between men and women there. 71% of men but only 45% of women say that that's one of the traditions they're looking forward to. The other one that jumped out, of course, is going shopping. 56% told us that's something they want to do and when we asked them a few more questions about going shopping, a change that we've seen now take place over the last several years, is that the most popular venue for shopping on this Black Friday weekend is going to be online on Cyber Monday. Nearly 2/3, 62% said that's something they're going to engage in. That number jumps to 80% of young people aged 18 to 34. So, it does appear as though those computer keyboards, laptops and smartphones are going to be clicking on Monday for Cyber Monday.

Slightly lower numbers, about 41% say they're going to visit a local retailer for Small Business Saturday, and only 38% say that they're going to a physical store on Black Friday. Seems to have changed a bit with Black Friday deals being available, not only online, but for a period that extends prior to actual Black Friday. Another number that I think is important for us all to think about at this point in the holiday season. We asked whether volunteering to serve a community meal was part of your Thanksgiving tradition and there we saw New Yorkers continued to be a generous group of people, 26%, one out of every four of us says that is something we're going to do. That number is significantly higher in New York City at 37% than either the suburbs or upstate, but we continue to see about one out of every four of us who say that's part of my holiday, is to is to actually volunteer to help serve folks who are not quite as fortunate as they.

Your poll found 72% of New Yorkers will gather in person with people they don't live with. This will be our third COVID Thanksgiving. How does that number compare to other years when there were admonitions about getting together?

That number is certainly up dramatically from where we've seen it in the last couple of years, when we were well below 50%. So, we are getting back to the new normal, it appears. But still, we see that close to one out of every four New Yorkers are saying either not yet or just not for me. We see young people a little bit more quick to gather with folks outside of their family at 76%. Older New Yorkers 65 years of age and older, that number drops about 10 points to 66%. But still, we are seeing more and more that. But at this point in time, certainly we didn't ask about it, but you have all the various potential complications of concern over COVID. Does a host require a recent test? You know, so on and so forth. Those are all new social dilemmas that each and every one of us have to either address or ignore. But overall, we're seeing about three out of every four New Yorkers say that they're going to be gathering with people outside of the folks with whom they live.

Now, I know they are separate measurements, but Siena also tracks consumer sentiment on a regular basis. Do the results in this poll about New Yorkers plans to shop over the closely watched Black Friday stretch Cyber Monday, tell you anything about how people are feeling about the economy in New York State?

Well, it does look as though there is some meaningful demand for the holiday season. I think you've teased it very effectively. We will be pulling consumer sentiment here just shortly after the holidays. So, we'll certainly have a more accurate read. We continue to see in consumer sentiment that, while New Yorkers have concerns about the economy, debt, concerns about inflation and the impact that's having on their on their budget, there still remains a willingness to spend on consumer goods. And certainly, we anticipate that holiday spending this year will be vibrant. But we don't as yet have the exact numbers from our polling as to whether people say that they're going to be spending more or less this holiday season than in previous years.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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