Michigan State University researchers are painting a grim picture about Thanksgiving holiday family gatherings.  The MSU report says its survey of over 1,000 US households shows that Thanksgiving celebrations may be down as much as 59 percent this year.  The East Lansing university’s survey also shows 72 percent of those responding plan to limit their holiday plans one way or another.

Of course, the COVID-19 virus outbreak gets the blame.  And the situation may actually end up being a bit more grim than the statistics indicate. The data was collected from 1,049 households the first week of this month, before the latest new series of pandemic shutdowns and business, school, and travel restrictions were announced. Michigan State’s Trey Malone is the report author. He is an assistant professor of agriculture, food and resource economics at the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He points to the COVID-19 virus outbreak as a primary factor behind disrupted food systems and altered traditional holiday gathering plans. He says, “As we move into the holiday season, our survey suggests that COVID-19 will generate a chilling effect on the fun social activities we all traditionally enjoy during this time.”

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Some additional data from Malone’s report include:
-Smaller groups will gather compared to the previous year, with the typical gathering being 6-10 people in 2019 and 1-5 expected in 2020.
-50% of people are avoiding travel for the holiday, compared to just 33% in 2019.
-The average turkey size will decrease from 16.2 pounds in 2019 to 15.3 pounds in 2020
-More people are planning to do their holiday shopping online. In 2019, 26% mostly shopped online, and in 2020, that number is projected to be 43%.

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