Taking a picture with departmental store Santas, getting stuck between strangers when using airline travel, interacting with staff at a hotel are examples of things Americans will miss the most during the 2020 holiday season.
Normal Out-of-home Activities
- As the holiday season approaches, many Americans are likely going to miss the normal out-of-home activities they were used to before the pandemic struck.
- According to a recent survey, 80% of consumers claim they still feel unsafe, despite out-of-home activities gradually picking up.
- Only one third of consumers have started resuming normal out-of-home activities. Four out of five Americans have not yet returned to pre-COVID-19 levels of comfort; therefore, a higher number of Americans will miss the normal out-of-home activities during the holidays.
- The number of Americans not currently engaging has dropped consistently to 64% from 73% in late July, indicating that more Americans will not have returned to their normal routines by the end of the holiday season.
Small Restaurants and Bars Closure
- Americans are going to miss some of their favorite restaurants. When the pandemic struck, restaurants and bars were left out of business and those that tried reopening were operating at low profit margins.
- For example, New York’s Amor y Amargo’s two locations closed indefinitely despite trying selling to-go cocktails and drinks that generate less than 1% of the business’ normal revenue.
- Research predicts that most of the independently owned bars and restaurants known for having high-end local experiences while traveling will not manage to restart at all.
- According to an April forecast by investment bank UBS, up to one in five restaurants in the U.S. may close indefinitely.
Reduced Contact between Staff and Guests
- With hotels prioritizing contactless technologies from hotel booking to opening hotel room doors, the hospitality industry is reducing contact between customers and guests.
- Guests should expect to interact with fewer staff or none. Hotels are encouraging guests to check in online and embrace contactless technology, for instance paying with their phones and using them as hotel room keys.
- The American Hotel & Lodging Association has encouraged the use of technology to minimize direct contact with visitors. Moreover, housekeepers are being discouraged from entering rooms during a stay, unless asked.
- Overall, these measures aimed at enhancing safety are also making it difficult for hotels to provide the welcoming environment guests are accustomed to.
Being Stuck in the Middle Seat during Holiday Travel
- When traveling, individuals never wanted to be stuck in the middle seat, surrounded by strangers. However, with the new travel restrictions, travelers secretly miss that spot.
- With the COVID pandemic, airlines have made adjustments to the sitting arrangement of passengers to minimize contact. Presently, passengers sit alone with the next passenger in the next seat in front or behind.
- Importantly, the squeezing used to elicit conversations with strangers, which used to spice the traveling experience. Unfortunately, none is happening now, as individuals are seated apart making it hard to start conversations without shouting.
Santa Claus Photo Tradition
- With the holiday season fast approaching, retailers are prepared for a muted shopping experience and Santa Claus are worried about taking pictures with shoppers because of COVID.
- According to Stephen Arnold, president of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas — “Santas are concerned about catching it, especially considering they’re immuno-compromised.”
- Arnold asserts that the trade group has about 2,300 members, of which the majority are diabetic, have heart conditions, are overweight, and elderly. This year, about 20% of Santas who make anywhere from $4,000 to $30,000 for their work intend to sit out this season.
- Overall, with masks and social distancing policies in effect, the 2020 tradition for taking a photo with a department store Santa may be missed, considering about one fifth of Santas plan to stay out this season.