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Demographic shifts reveal significant differences in Turkey Day celebrations

Celebrating Thanksgiving with a traditional dinner at home among family and friends is widely accepted as commonplace. New research by Category Partners indicates that while “traditional” at home Thanksgiving Day celebrations remain the norm for a majority of Americans, a significant percentage of individuals have redefined Turkey Day, while others do not celebrate the holiday at all.

In a new national consumer survey of 1,000 consumers, Category Partners asked participants how they plan to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. A key area of inquiry was whether consumers host a Thanksgiving meal at home, travel away from home to celebrate family or friends, or perhaps not celebrate the holiday at all. web-image

Nearly half of respondents said they plan to host a Thanksgiving dinner with a home-prepared meal for themselves and/or family members, while 30 percent of households indicate plans to travel to someone else’s home for a home-prepared Thanksgiving meal. However, household demographics reveal that that there are significant differences linked to age, income, household size and other factors.

According to Cara Ammon, director of research for Category Partners, while celebrating with a meal on Thanksgiving remains the central theme for most Americans, the study showed for a significant number of households, Thanksgiving does not include the traditional home-prepared meal.

“We were surprised that for 20 percent of survey respondents, the traditional home-cooked Thanksgiving meal is not part of holiday,” said Ammon. “For 9 percent of individuals, they say they either don’t celebrate Thanksgiving at all or there is no unique holiday meal. An additional 11 percent said that they will either travel to a restaurant or the Thanksgiving meal will be store-bought or catered.”

Ammon notes there are significant demographic differences that appear to have an impact on decisions around hosting Thanksgiving events. “Having children in the home significantly impacts the celebration plans,” said Ammon. “Sixty-four percent of households with children said they plan to celebrate Thanksgiving at home compared to only 41 percent of households without children. Twenty-one percent of households without children said they will go to a restaurant or skip Thanksgiving altogether.”

Household income also plays a significant role in decisions to host Thanksgiving at home. The study showed that in households reporting income in excess of $200,000 per year, 73 percent plan to host a Thanksgiving at home event vs. only 47 percent of households with $50,000 in annual income.

“We were also surprised to see that for people living alone, many may stay alone on Thanksgiving,” said Ammon. “Nearly 30 percent of individuals living by themselves do not experience a traditional Thanksgiving and say they will eat at a restaurant on Thanksgiving or skip the holiday all together.”

“It seems like a good reminder that on Thanksgiving a lot of people have no place to go. An invitation to join you for your Thanksgiving meal —especially among those people living alone — just might make all the difference in the world.”