Three Out of Five People Will Avoid Black Friday Shopping, Football Games and Holiday Parades Due to COVID

  • The pandemic continues to impact shopping habits, with over 20% saying they will buy more comfortable clothes and more technology
  • 59% say they support businesses with vaccine requirements for customers and employees vs. 21% who are opposed

New research from Qualtrics reveals the holiday season will be far from a return to normal this year, with fewer than half of working Americans (38%) saying they are comfortable participating in major sales events like Black Friday or other in-person holiday activities, including Thanksgiving Day football games (36%) and holiday parades (33%).

COVID remains a major concern for holiday shoppers and celebrators during this challenging season, as hard-hit U.S. businesses navigate changing vaccination and COVID safety policies while battling supply chain and labor issues. Even as cities, including New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, implement new rules requiring proof of vaccination, U.S. consumers are divided on this next phase of vaccine policy. The majority (59%) support businesses requiring customers and employees to be vaccinated, while 21% are opposed. The full results of the study can be found here.

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These findings demonstrate that, while business leaders hoped a COVID vaccine would bring stability and relief to the retail market, the pandemic continues to pose challenges. This year, the majority of Americans (70%) say their purchasing decisions will be affected by the pandemic, with 35% saying they intend to do more shopping online rather than in stores.

For those who do venture out to find holiday gifts, food and entertainment, mask requirements are more palatable than vaccine requirements. When asked about different combinations of mask and vaccine policies, more people (61%) say they feel comfortable in stores where masks are required for everyone, than where vaccines are required for everyone (49%).

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More key findings:

  • The pandemic continues to shape purchasing habits. After shopping more online, the top ways the pandemic is affecting shopping plans are: 24% say they will buy more comfortable clothes, 21% will buy more technology for personal use and 19% will buy more tools or technology for remote work.
  • Most are uncomfortable with typical holiday events. Fewer than half of people feel comfortable with holiday traditions like office parties (45%), holiday travel (44%), religious services (41%), Thanksgiving Day football games or other sporting events (36%) and New Year’s Eve parties and Thanksgiving Day Parades (33%).
  • Vaccines will be a source of contention at holiday gatherings this year. Half (50%) of people are worried about holiday gatherings because of COVID, and 52% say vaccines will be a source of contention at gatherings this year — with Democrats, vaccinated people and younger people more likely to be worried than their counterparts.
  • Some are avoiding unvaccinated family and friends. 19% of people have unvaccinated family members or friends they will not visit this season because of their vaccination status.
  • Holiday travel is happening, but most don’t feel it is safe. While 59% are planning to travel for the holidays, only 44% feel comfortable with holiday travel.


This study was fielded between Oct. 12 and Oct. 15, 2021. Respondents were selected from a randomized panel and considered eligible if they live in the United States, are at least 18 years of age and are employed full time or part time. The total number of respondents was 1,309. Respondents who did not pass quality standards were removed.

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