Concern about COVID casts a shadow over holiday planning

Even as cases continue to fall following the Delta surge, concern about COVID colors everything from how optimistic Americans are about returning to their pre-COVID lives to what people are gifting their friends and family this holiday season.

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
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October 19- Even as cases continue to fall following the Delta surge, concern about COVID colors everything from how optimistic Americans are about returning to their pre-COVID lives to what people are gifting their friends and family this holiday season. Beyond the pandemic, we explore who moved away from where they grew up.

And, following Indigenous People’s Day, Americans overwhelmingly support preserving Native American sacred sites through federal land designations.

 Stories this week:

Indigenous sacred sites:

A return to normal:

Holiday shopping:

Americans on the move:

Nearly all Americans support preserving Native American sacred sites through federal land designations

Nine in ten Americans support preserving Native American sacred sites through federal land designations, which include classifying land as national monuments or parks, Ipsos polling finds.

While decisive majorities of both Democrats and Republicans back this, the strength of support differs by partisanship. Two in three Democrats strongly support preserving indigenous sacred sites through these federal land designations, while only 42% of Republicans feel the same.

People who think pre-COVID life is still a long way off are less likely to be socializing

How Americans perceive the nation’s progress on the pandemic is linked to how likely they are to be doing out of home socializing. Three in four who say they’ve already returned to their pre-COVID lives say they visited friends or relatives or went out to eat in the past week. Just 16% of this group say they social distanced.

Meanwhile, those who are still waiting on a full return to pre-COVID normal are less apt to socialize and significantly more likely to report social distancing. Particularly among those not expecting a return to normal for at least six months, only a minority report going out to eat, a proxy for broader commercial activity.

The unvaccinated are more likely to have returned to their pre-COVID lives

Unvaccinated Americans are more likely to report having “already” returned to their pre-COVID lives, while the vaccinated believe that a full return to normalcy is months or more than a year off. This underlines that being vaccinated alone is not enough to prompt people to fully pick up their old lives, and low levels of optimism about how long it will take the country to fully recover.

Levels of concern about COVID reveal a similar dichotomy. Just 8% of those who are concerned about COVID have returned to their pre-COVID lives, compared to 58% of those who are not concerned about COVID.

For some this holiday season, the type of present you buy is still colored by the pandemic

Among the three in ten Americans who view COVID as a low personal threat, roughly one in five (17%) plan to give their family and friends experience-related gifts, like museum memberships or travel presents. While among the roughly one in three (36%) who view COVID as a high personal threat, only one in ten plan to gift the same type of present.

On the other hand, people who view COVID as a high personal threat are more likely to gift things for the home such as home appliances or other gadget-related presents, like computer accessories or small electronics.

COVID or not, though, there are some mainstays people will be buying, like gift cards, clothing, and food or beverage-related presents.

Shipping taking too long is the biggest concern about buying gifts online

Given the reported issues with the global supply chain, Americans’ are most worried that shipping will take too long if they buy gifts online, with two in five Americans worried about this.

An additional 28% of people are worried their gift will arrive at the wrong time, adding to the fear of bad timing disturbing the supply chain and e-commerce market this year. Ranking low on people’s list of worries is packaging, with few concerned that gift wrapping will be too expensive (7%) or feel impersonal (5%).

And while the worriers out there are handwringing over timing and packaging, one in three aren’t stressed about buying gifts online at all.

More than half of Americans live somewhere where they didn’t grow up

Just over half of all Americans report living somewhere other than the community or area where they grew up. This trend is most pronounced among Americans with higher level of education. Just 32% of those with a bachelor’s degree or more report living close to where they grew up, compared to 54% of those with a high school education or less and 49% of those with some college.

Rural Americans are most likely to be living in the same community where they grew up (57%), as are Americans with a high school diploma, its equivalent, or less (54%).

Mobility and the 2020 election

Counties that went for President Biden by more than 100,000 votes in the 2020 election (predominantly major cities) are more likely to be made up of fewer “locals” and more people who have moved there from elsewhere. This points to how demographic change can affect electoral outcomes.

Americans’ mobility had further consequences for the 2020 election. As people from liberal areas increasingly move to traditionally conservative states, like Florida and Georgia, the swing state balance is shifting. People currently living in states where the margins were razor thin in the 2020 election, like Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona, are more likely to report having grown up in a different region of the country altogether.

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs

Society