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American Christmas & COVID-19

More than half (57%) of Americans have changed their Christmas plans because of COVID-19.

But 34% still plan to travel (same day or longer) this Christmas.

For a snapshot, check our infographic summary.

For Canadian results, check out our Canadian summary.


Most Americans are staying home - but many still plan to travel

Half (51%) of Americans have decided to celebrate with only their immediate family over Christmas. Rural residents are less likely to be confining their celebrations, with only 40% celebrating with immediate family. An additional 30% of rural residents will celebrate with fewer people. Other precautions include wearing masks (35%) and forgoing physical greetings (32%). Travel has been reduced - while half of Americans typically travel for Christmas, only 34% plan to do so in 2020. Those living in the Northeast are most likely (41%) to still plan travel this Christmas season (same day travel most commonly).

“In the US, a significant number of people, particularly those in the Northeast, and members of GenZ, are still planning same day or overnight travel over the Christmas holiday period.”, says Lori Reiser, Principal Consultant at Advanis, who conducted the survey of Americans.


Messaging Clear - in most regions

⅔ of Americans have heard messaging about safer Christmas gatherings. Messaging has the highest penetration in the Northeast (66%) and lowest in the Midwest (52%). Half of our participants say that there are mandatory bans on holiday gatherings in their area (highest in the West at 60%, and lowest in the South at 38%).

Generation X is most worried about the impacts of COVID-19, perhaps taking on worry both for their children and for their parents (⅔ have kids in the home, and more than half have a family member at high risk for COVID-19). 


Expecting things to get worse before they get better

68% of Americans expect COVID-19 cases to rise after Christmas (significantly lower than the 81% of Canadians who feel this way in a similar survey). Country-wide, there is modest support for bans on large gatherings (58% strongly/somewhat agree) - and the majority support closures of school and non-essential businesses to reduce spread (66% and 57% respectively). 62% plan to keep their families isolated for a few days after the holiday. There is stronger support for current rules - only 22% strongly agree that current rules have gone too far, and only 21% strongly agree that religious services should be exempt from gathering limits. 

“Despite government interventions in many regions, Americans expect an increase in COVID-19 cases after Christmas. Many are planning to take action to keep their families isolated, and would support government interventions in schools”, says Reiser.

Vaccine hesitancy exists, low support for mandating vaccinations

Only 59% of Americans assert that they will for sure get vaccinated when it is available (a further 19% are unsure). Only 50% feel that the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory. Vaccine hesitancy is higher among women (51% of women vs. 70% of men plan to get vaccinated), and only 46% of rural residents and 36% of African Americans plan to get vaccinated.


While Americans worry about older relatives, Americans 60+ are less worried about themselves, more likely to vaccinate 

Although 65% of people under 60 are worried about potentially impacting their older family members, only 42% of older people are concerned about their own health during a Christmas family visit, perhaps because they have chosen to isolate themselves more: older Americans are less likely than younger Americans to be attending a celebration (48% vs. 62%).  Older Americans are more likely than younger Americans to plan to be vaccinated - 69% of those over 60 plan to be vaccinated when available, compared to 56% of those under age 60.  Despite this, only 44% feel that vaccines should be mandatory. 


Spending Less

Half (48%) of Americans plan to spend less on gifts, decorations, and food this Christmas season, with those negatively impacted financially by COVID-19 most likely to be spending less (60%). 48% of Americans are very (19%) or somewhat (29%) pessimistic about the economy. Only 34% expect that 2021 will see a return to normalcy. Negative financial effects are most likely to be felt by American households who earned less than $40K/year prior to COVID-19. 


Survey Methodology

An online survey of 1030 American (U.S.) Adults and 1121 Canadian adults was conducted by Advanis from December 9-13th, 2020. Details are available upon request. 

US data was collected using quotas that aligned with US Bureau of Statistics populations by age and gender. American participants were recruited using a non-probability online panel. 

National results of a similarly sized probability sample would be accurate to within +/- 3.0%, 19 times out of 20.

Advanis is a member of the Canadian Research Insights Council (CRIC) and confirms that this research fully complies with all CRIC Standards including the CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards and Disclosure Requirements.

Contact Information

Lori Reiser, Principal Consultant (

888-944-9212 x4125

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