By Steve Markenson, Director, Research, FMI
A few years ago, my wife proclaimed that she wanted to “do Thanksgiving right.” That year we squeezed 36 people shoulder-to-shoulder into our dining room for a feast the likes of which our kitchen had not, and since then has not, seen. This year my wife’s thinking about Thanksgiving is drastically different. Our “nest” is almost empty and some of those who typically attended that mega-feast are no longer with us. Who will be sitting at our Thanksgiving dinner presents quite a quandary for us (and for many others) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As I look at FMI’s most recent U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends COVID-19 Tracker, I see that we are not alone with our dilemma. Nearly a third of Americans are planning to do less this Thanksgiving than in previous years (30%). I can certainly relate to the two most common changes Americans are making in their Thanksgiving this year – getting together with fewer people (33%) and avoiding long-distance travel or travelers (26%). As work and school goes, so goes Thanksgiving as 19% are planning virtual gatherings. Clearly, connecting with people is integral to Thanksgiving for Americans as 65% say this is an important part of their having a successful holiday. But an even greater proportion of Americans (76%) say they will consider this Thanksgiving a success if they avoid the health and safety risks of COVID-19. I know this is a sentiment my family shares as we decide how we can safely celebrate Thanksgiving this year.
Our ninth U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends COVID-19 Tracker also takes a look at American’s plans for the December holidays, New Year’s Eve, and a few other key takeaways:
- While concerns about food shortages have abated for many, one in five Americans continue to be concerned about having enough money to feed their families.
- Even as community restrictions have been lifted, Americans are continuing to increase their engagement with online grocery shopping.
- As just over one-third of Americans had gotten a flu shot as of the first week of October, the grocery store pharmacy is a likely choice for many of those who are still planning to get a flu shot.
- While Americans are less engaged in sports this year, those who are watching sports are adjusting by making more food at home, ordering prepared food and platters from their grocery store, or ordering food for take-out from restaurants to enjoy while watching their favorite team from the safety of their home.