Christmas trends are shifting significantly for 2020 — to the surprise of almost no one. While nobody saw this coming last Christmas the cold realities of 2020 have spelled for a different Christmas thanks to a variety of factors: a pandemic, widespread unemployment, retail closures and election year politics.
For more than two decades MyMerryChristmas.com has conducted an annual survey of Christmas trends.
The survey is always conducted offline and away from any branding specific to our website. As in year’s past the survey was conducted in five major USA markets with over 6000 participants over a period of four months, starting in April 2020.
This year’s survey showcases clearly what a dramatic year it has already been.
Despite the turmoil many folks are looking forward to Christmas: 91 percent say they will be spending Christmas with family, despite the clear precautions all have been taking due to the pandemic.
In a normal year this is a metric most do not give much acknowledgement. The figure is significant this year because it shows about a 10 percent change and because the pandemic has caused many to discourage family gatherings.
We did ask follow-up questions specifically because of the pandemic this year.
85 percent indicate they are not overly concerned about family members coming for Christmas due to the virus. 80 percent say they have discussed plans and concerns well in advance.
94 percent say Christmas is too important to skip as long as healthy precautions are taken.
The survey indicates the average family gathering this year will be from 6 to 9 people, a slightly smaller number from previous surveys.
Spending trends for Christmas 2020 may take a significant downward spiral. 68 percent of survey participants plan to spend less this year.
While only 23 percent said personal employment concerns were the primary cause, a full 73 percent said economic uncertainty tied to the election and civil unrest may hold back their spending in November and December. These are unprecedented figures in our annual survey.
How and where money will be spent seems to be murky to survey takers this year, especially those polled in August.
83 percent say online was always their plan for holiday spending but traditional shoppers, to the tune of 66 percent of them, indicate they really are not sure where they will be physically shopping this year.
To augment our survey without revealing the results, we turned to our community online for their take on Christmas spending 2020. They brought up some things we had not thought about:
Said one community member: “As far as what I won’t buy, no gift cards. I usually get my aunt several for different restaurants here in town but there’s no guarantee that they won’t close before she can use them right now.”
Gift cards were something we failed to address in this year’s survey.
But these are valid sentiments confirmed around the country. According to Yelp 55 percent of the businesses closed due to Covid will not re-open. This is a significant factor for the upcoming holiday season.
Major retail bankruptcies in 2020 – JCPenney, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, just to name a few – are bound to scare off the gift card buyers for surviving retailers.
These events, coupled with other realities of 2020 we have not even touched on, are causing spending plans to change.
Another forum member said, “We are also going to allot more for food. Before this we ate out a lot during the holiday season…going to and from Christmas events. As those events won’t be taking place this year, we are making sure to have a few special events at our house…and bake plenty of treats…”
Christmas at home is echoed in our survey and greatly anticipated this year: More will be handmade and gifting will be “simplified”, according to 64 percent of respondents.
Clearly the closures of major Christmas-themed events are driving this trend.
A whopping 83 percent indicated they were sad at being unable to attend their favorite public Christmas events in 2020 (and a surprising 42 percent felt that such cancellations were unnecessary!)
Travel is another holiday category with significant changes and diverse views.
Travel at extended distances (greater than 500 miles) will happen, according to just 53 percent of respondents (down from about 60% during a “normal” year).
But it likely will not happen on planes. 84 percent say they plan to travel by car this year over long distances for Christmas travel.
Enthusiasm for Christmas is something we try to gauge in every survey.
We are happy to report that 97 percent not only look forward to Christmas 2020 but also an increase in the popularity of Santa Claus was shown by participants this year. 88 percent anticipate celebrating Santa this Christmas, up from an average of 76 percent in year’s past.
Those figures are not surprising in this unusual year. Since March 2020 traffic on all of our Christmas websites, social media channels, podcasts and radio streams have risen sharply over previous year’s trends.
Christmas is a release and a feel-good diversion during times of stress.
In the weeks ahead we will be sharing more revelations from our annual survey in regards to Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas foods, decorating and entertainment.