Americans to Celebrate at Home

Only 21% of consumers surveyed said they would be traveling for the holidays.

December 14, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—There’s no place like home for the holidays, but this year, it appears Americans will really be taking that to heart. Typically a very busy time of year for convenience stores providing fuel, alcohol and last minute treats, this means the holidays will likely look different in 2020.

A new consumer survey report commissioned by NCSolutions (NCS) found that of the 92% of Americans planning to celebrate the holidays, 79% of Americans plan to do so at home. A majority (54%) plan to celebrate in smaller groups.

Only 21% stated that they would be traveling to celebrate. Five percent of those celebrating will do so at a friend’s house, with 12% doing so at a relative’s. Four percent of consumers celebrating will do so at a restaurant, a hotel or destination, or another location.

For New Year’s Eve, 66% of consumers plan to celebrate the evening, but with 28% of this group stating that they would do so via virtual gatherings. Of those, 61% would do so via social media, 54% would use cooking websites and 47% stated they would watch celebrations on TV.

Still, many consumers remain hopeful that 2021 will bring better days than 2020, with 45% believing that the health situation in the U.S. will improve. Thirty-two percent believe the health situation will remain the same, while 23% think the situation will further deteriorate. Of the 45% who are optimistic, nearly all (94%) plan to celebrate the holidays, and 26% plan to spend more on in home meals for the holidays.

Linda Dupree, CEO, NCSolutions commented, “Consumers are optimistic about the future and have warm associations with celebratory foods around the holiday season… In general, holiday advertising planning is a critical time for brands. Consumers have emotional associations and loyalties to the products found at the tables and celebrations for all holidays throughout the year. In 2020, in particular, more people will be celebrating at home—and cooks are more likely to experiment with new dishes, ingredients and food items. It’s an excellent moment for brands to connect and engage new and loyal buyers alike.”

Compared with last year, NCS purchase data indicated that November consumer packaged goods spending remained 15% higher year over year in drug, grocery, mass market and e-commerce retail outlets. November also experienced a slight increase due to Thanksgiving Day gatherings, a possible indication for foodservice and retail outlets for what to expect come the week leading up to the start of the winter holidays.

While the top-selling CPG categories remained mostly the same quantities as they did November 2019 in November 2020 (with the exception of toilet paper), there are fast-growing categories that may see a boost with the holidays. Some of these items include hand sanitizer, shelf-stable breakfasts, frozen meat, premixed alcohol cocktails, and cleaning supplies such as bleach, soap, and other disinfectants.