ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Data for the Independence Day holiday weekend show many Americans were on the road over the July 4 weekend, and that number was generally higher overall than Memorial Day weekend, reports CNN. The July 4 weekend was generally recognized as Friday, Saturday and Sunday, while Memorial Day weekend in May was Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
A new analysis of cellphone data suggests people were traveling, even in 10 coronavirus hotspots. The data come from Cuebiq, one of the private companies that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses to track general movement nationwide. Cuebiq collects data when people download apps on their phones and opt into anonymous location data tracking. The company’s full data set includes 15 million phones nationwide.
Cuebiq focused on the number of visitors to and from 10 metro area hotspots from a week prior to the July 4 weekend. The analysis included data from Atlanta; Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Florida; Phoenix; Charleston, South Carolina; and Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas.
Because government officials were concerned that July 4 gatherings could spread the virus, many states and municipalities canceled celebrations. Despite cancellations, nearly all of the metro areas Cuebiq analyzed saw an increase in the proportion of visitors over the holiday weekend, when compared to either Memorial Day weekend or the two-week prior average. The one exception was the Phoenix area, which experienced a slightly higher percentage of visitors during Memorial Day weekend, but whose locals traveled elsewhere in greater numbers over the Independence Day weekend.
Two hotspot cities saw the highest proportions of vacationers: Orlando saw the largest increase in visitors compared to the weeks leading up to the holiday weekend, and Charleston saw the highest percentage of visitors among the 10 metro areas. In both areas, roughly 1 in 5 devices was determined to be a visitor, according to Cuebiq’s analysis. Visits steadily increased in Charleston through June, the data showed.
In general, travelers tended to visit cities in their own state or region, but some traveled further. About 3.7% of visitors to the Miami area came from New York, and another 3.9% came from the Atlanta area. Of the people visiting Phoenix, 16.3% came from just three metro areas in Southern California: Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego.
Of these 10 areas, Atlanta-area residents were the most likely to travel. About 20% of the Atlanta area devices the company tracked had left the state and traveled to another city, many to Florida.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.