How Is Covid-19 Impacting 2020's Holiday Season?

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Every year, the winter-holiday months add up to big spending and whirlwind activity for both companies and people. Families, health officials, retailers and airlines all start participating in one of the busiest times of the year to shop and travel. However, the COVID-19 outbreak remains a global threat, even now that the holidays are upon us. To continue mitigating that threat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised that "postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others [from getting COVID-19] this year" and is clear about the risks people assume when they decide to travel during a pandemic.

But despite these explicit guidelines, families who are desperate to see loved ones whom they haven't had contact with since the pandemic began (and those who are desperate for some normalcy — and a vacation) are causing airlines to experience large bumps in travel. The Friday before Thanksgiving saw more than 1 million people pass through U.S. airports in "the second-highest single-rush day of travelers since the start of the pandemic," according to The Washington Post. Despite the fact that this may end up putting more pressure on already-stressed healthcare systems as daily case counts continue to climb and winter wages on, The Washington Post also notes travelers have stated "that the CDC's guidance...had either not registered or made no difference in their decision-making" when it came time to make choices about holiday trips.

While the travel aspect of the season isn't doing much so far to quell worries about transmission, health officials continue to share predictions on what the future may hold for the holiday season that's upon us and the months that'll follow — along with promising news about vaccines that may buoy our spirits a little as we navigate "new normal" holidays. These predictions have prompted stores like Target, Walmart and other retailers to implement newly revised plans to keep their businesses afloat through the end of the year and beyond. The holiday season can be stressful enough without the threat of a pandemic, so before you start booking flights and putting together a game plan for hitting the local mall in search of gift deals, take a look at what retail, travel and health experts have to say about expectations for 2020’s holiday season.