Americans Are Ready to Grill and Chill for Labor Day

However, 54% say inflation is likely to reduce travel plans for the holiday weekend.

August 31, 2022

CHICAGO—Consumers expect little impact from COVID-19 or inflation this Labor Day, but all expected celebration plans are down slightly from past years, according to Numerator’s 2022 Labor Day Weekend Consumer Survey Report. Three-quarters of consumers plan to celebrate Labor Day this year.

Expected impacts from inflation and COVID-19 are at their lowest points to date for consumers. Fifty-one percent of consumers expect inflation to impact their Labor Day plans, down from 62% at the beginning of the summer (Memorial Day weekend). Fewer than 1 in 5 consumers (18%) expect a COVID-19 impact this year, following a steady decline in concern throughout 2022.

However, inflation is expected to impact Labor Day travel plans for more than half of consumers. Nearly one-third of shoppers (32%) say rising gas prices will force them to travel less, and another 22% will not travel at all this year as a result.

Almost all (94%) of consumers expect to make purchases for their celebrations, most of which are food focused. Meat/seafood (58% of consumers), snacks (54%), fruits/vegetables (48%), side dishes (44%) and alcoholic beverages (43%) top the list of planned purchases. Among non-food planned purchases, more than a quarter (26%) of consumers plan to buy grilling materials, 8% plan to buy holiday decorations and 6% plan to buy sporting goods or outdoor games.

The majority of consumers plan to shop in-store this Labor Day. Eighty-eight percent of Labor Day weekend shoppers expect to make their purchases in-person, with grocery stores (68%), mass retailers (45%) and club retailers (33%) as the top shopping destinations. Less than 1 in 5 consumers (17%) expect to shop online.

Grilling and gathering remain the top choices for Labor Day celebrations, even though all plans are down slightly from past years. Sixty-one percent of celebrants plan to grill or barbeque, while 53% plan to gather with family and friends. Gathering (-8 points), attending/hosting a party (-7 points) and traveling (-7 points) saw the biggest drops from past years’ plans.

Celebration plans vary by generation. Gen Z consumers are most likely to go out for food/drinks (37%), travel (26%) or attend/host a party (26%) compared to other generations, while boomers+ are the most likely generation to gather with family and friends (58%) and Gen X are the most likely to grill out (63%).

Nearly 9 in 10 consumers may shop Labor Day weekend sale events. More than one-third (34%) of consumers say they plan to shop deals over the long weekend, and another 52% say they might participate. 

One-quarter of consumers plan to look for Labor Day deals on clothing and household essentials. While the majority (51%) of consumers planning to shop Labor Day deals expect to buy grocery items, 25% say they will buy apparel/shoes, and 24% will buy household essentials.

Deal event shoppers are prepared to change their shopping behaviors in light of inflation. Consumers will approach rising costs in several ways, including comparing prices (45%), stocking up on sale items (31%), not purchasing non-necessities (29%) and waiting to purchase a specific product at a lower price (18%).