56% Changing Holiday Celebrations Due to Pandemic
56% Changing Holiday Celebrations Due to Pandemic

The holiday season is gearing up to look much different this year, as a majority of consumers will be adjusting their plans because of the coronavirus crisis.

More than half of consumers who typically celebrate the winter holidays — 56% — said the COVID-19 outbreak will influence their celebration plans, according to a survey by cash exchange company Coinstar.

Not only will many be skipping in-person gatherings to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus, but some will also be cutting down on the number of gifts they ultimately give.

A move to cancel Christmas?

Earlier this year, the pandemic led to the cancellation of many events ranging from summer travel plans to weddings and graduation ceremonies. Now it appears that some consumers may at least be thinking about canceling in-person Christmas gatherings.

Nearly one-third of respondents — 31% — said they would skip the entire holiday season this year if it was possible. Others are weighing the idea of postponing family celebrations until the pandemic winds down. In fact, 49% said they would consider having a “Christmas in July” celebration in 2021 in order to gather with family and friends in-person.

Virtual celebrations appear to be the way to go for now:

  • 21% said they would consider attending a virtual church service

  • 19% said they may hold a virtual gift exchange among family and friends

  • 12% said they would weigh the idea of competing in a virtual holiday sweater contest

Gift-giving less of a priority

For those who consider gift exchanges to be the highlight of the holiday season, this year may prove disappointing.

Half of respondents said they expect to give fewer gifts this season. Financial concerns are a big reason for that, as 32% said they’ll be buying fewer gifts because of a job loss or decreased work, and 24% said they are cutting back on gifts because they are concerned about the economy.

However, cutting back on gifts doesn’t necessarily mean consumers will be spending less overall this holiday season. Among respondents, nearly 2 in 5 (39%) said they planned to give money to charity instead of giving a gift to a friend or co-worker.

Also, an earlier survey found that some consumers expect to spend the same amount or more than usual in a bid to create normalcy this holiday season.

Whether consumers spend their money on gifts, charity or other holiday items, 45% said they will use their spare change this holiday season. Respondents report having, on average, $113 in spare change lying around in their homes.

With the pandemic causing so many changes to consumers’ lifestyles, some respondents said they are focusing their shopping lists on items their loved ones can use during the outbreak.

  • 40% expect to give hand sanitizer

  • 38% expect to gift someone with face masks

  • 23% said they would buy disinfectant wipes as a gift

Methodology: Coinstar commissioned polling firm Atomik Research to survey 2,009 adults, all of whom purport to regularly give gifts to others as part of winter holiday celebrations. The survey took place Sept. 10-13, 2020.