A Thanksgiving of change and resilience

As health experts caution against gathering and traveling while a new wave of COVID-19 is surging across the country, Thanksgiving 2020, like much of the year, will be different for many Americans. Compared to last year, 68 percent of Americans expect to celebrate at least somewhat differently this year, according to market intelligence firm Numerator.

Only 13% of Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving this year, according to the latest survey from Consumer Brands Association. This represents a decline of at least 12 million travelers from last year when about 17% of the US population traveled for Thanksgiving, as reported by AAA. The number of travelers could be even smaller as the number of positive cases continues to rise.

Fewer Americans (29 percent) will host or attend a Thanksgiving meal with extended family, down from nearly half in 2019, and they will have fewer people at the table, according to IRI research. The Consumer Brands’ survey showed that forty-four percent of Americans say they will be hosting or attending gatherings with fewer people this year, and they most likely will be doing it in private homes rather than in restaurants or event facilities.

With more people at home for Thanksgiving, with smaller gatherings (or none, for some households) planned, people shopping for groceries are turning more and more to online ordering and delivery or store pickup. Forty-two percent of Americans report using some type of online ordering for grocery products in the last six months, compared to pre- COVID-19, when only three to four percent of grocery spending was online, according to Consumer Brands Association.

The holiday season could bring additional pressure to an already stressed supply chain, with consumers worried about shortages of essential products, and CPG retail and trucking industries having to navigate the disruption caused by consumer demand amidst the pandemic. As Transport Topics reports, food retailers and carriers are anticipating heading into a high-demand holiday season, made even more challenging by changes in consumer behavior (more online shopping) and seasonal trends. The combination of more people eating at home and smaller gatherings could make inventory needs harder to predict.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so many aspects of people’s lives, including how Thanksgiving is celebrated. But, American families, and the supply chain that brings grocery and other CPG products to them, continue to find new ways to be more resilient. “The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that we play an important role in keeping America’s supply chain moving,” said CJ Logistics America CEO Ed Bowersox. “We are thankful for the commitment, strength and perseverance of our customers and our employees who are doing this essential work.”

Doctors offer Thanksgiving safety tips
As CJ Logistics America’s Senior Director of Safety, Security & Compliance Joe Smiesko said, “The safety of our employees is our highest priority.” Doctors at self.com emphasize that “making big changes in how we celebrate this holiday season will be an investment in the health of our family, friends and others.” Their essential Thanksgiving safety tips:

  1. Remember that major holidays have contributed to spikes in COVID-19 cases.
  2. Prepare to celebrate the holidays differently until we have a widely disseminated vaccine.
  3. Steer the conversation about COVID-19 away from politics.
  4. Be extra vigilant about travel.
  5. Remember that following safety measures doesn’t mean you can’t connect meaningfully.

Zoom lifts meeting time limit for Thanksgiving
With Thanksgiving traditions disrupted and many families turning to virtual celebrations, Zoom is thanking customers and ensuring that family gatherings don’t get cut short by lifting the 40-minute limit for all meetings globally from midnight ET on Nov. 26 through 6 am ET on Nov. 27.

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