Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Thanksgiving Travel Update

Shira Petrack
December 7, 2021
Thanksgiving Travel Update

The days before and after Thanksgiving are some of the busiest travel days of the year – so we took the opportunity to check back in and give an update on the travel and hospitality recovery as 2021 draws to a close. 

Slow and Steady Recovery for Yo2Y Airport Foot Traffic

From April to July, the year-over-two-year (Yo2Y) monthly visit gap had been slowly but surely shrinking. But when we last checked in with the travel sector in late August, the summer season seemed to have ended abruptly, as the United States entered its fourth COVID wave. And since – Thanksgiving aside – fall is not typically a high-travel month, there was concern that the early end of the summer travel season would significantly hamper the sector’s recovery. 

But the travel industry, which proved its resilience over the past 21 months, has again demonstrated its capacity to bounce back. Although visits to five of the nation’s leading airports did take a major hit in September, the Yo2Y visit gap narrowed significantly already in the following month. October foot traffic to LAX, O’hare, DFW, JFK, and Miami International was down by 19.9%, 17.7%, 8.5%, 27.3%, and 1.7%, respectively, compared to 2019 – which means that four out of the five airports analyzed were further along in their recovery in October than they were in June. 

Zooming into weekly visits in October-November confirms that air travel is coming back. All the airports analyzed were in a significantly better position by mid November than they were at the beginning of October, with visits the week of November 15-21 only down by 14.3%, 12.3%, and 6.7% for LAX, O’hare, and JFK, and up by 5.2% and 18.5% for DFW and Miami International. 

Interestingly, the week of Thanksgiving didn’t give the air travel recovery a major bump. While some airports did see their visit gap shrink slightly and Miami saw its visit surplus rise, these changes seem in line with the slow and steady recovery that the airports have been experiencing throughout the fall.  

But the fact that the Yo2Y visit gap didn’t see any major change the week of November 22nd does not mean that Thanksgiving travel was not significant this year. It’s important to remember that the week of November 22nd 2021 is being compared to November 25th 2019 – in other words, Thanksgiving week 2021 is being compared to Thanksgiving 2019. So the reason the recovery rate held more or less steady throughout November is because this year’s Thanksgiving week also saw surges in air travel. In other words, Thanksgiving week 2021 airport visit numbers were relatively comparable to the 2019 numbers within the context of each year’s overall air travel.

Thanksgiving Travel 

Comparing airport visits over the week of November 22nd to the average daily foot traffic for November 1-21 (the three weeks preceding Thanksgiving) show just how significant Thanksgiving travel was this year. While we usually think of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as one of the busiest travel days of the year, it seems that many people actually preferred to travel on Tuesday this year – airport visits were higher on Tuesday than on Wednesday for all the airports analyzed except Miami. But the busiest travel day was neither Tuesday nor Wednesday, but Sunday, as many travellers stayed at their destination as long as possible, journeying back just in time to be back at work on Monday.

Hotel Recovery 

The hotel recovery has not been uniform across chains. Some brands have essentially recovered from the COVID blow – Comfort Inn & Suites and Best Western saw a respective 3.8% and 5.6% increase in Yo2Y October visits. Others, such as Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt Regency, and Four Points by Sheraton which had 5.3%, 16.6%, and 10.7% respective decreases in Yo2Y October visits, are still working on closing the visit gap.

But unlike airport visits – where the Yo2Y figures for November 22-28 were in line with the Yo2Y visit comparisons for November as a whole across the board – some hotel chains did get a relative boost the week of Thanksgiving. 

Four Points by Sheraton managed to decrease its Yo2Y visit gap by almost a third compared to the week before, to reach a Yo2Y visit gap of 10.8% the week of Thanksgiving. Hyatt Regency, which has been struggling with a double digit Yo2Y visit gap since the start of the pandemic, saw a Yo2Y visit increase of 4.2% the week of Thanksgiving. 

Hilton Garden Inn, meanwhile, which had seen its Yo2Y visit gap narrow again in October, saw Yo2Y foot traffic fall again in November, with visits the week of Thanksgiving down 9.8% compared to 2019. And Comfort Inn & Suites and Best Western, where Yo2Y foot traffic had already recovered prior to Thanksgiving, saw their Yo2Y numbers drop slightly– 3.8% and 6.9% increase, respectively, for Comfort Inn & Suites and Best Western, compared to 8.8% and 10.1% increases the week before. The slight decrease in Yo2Y visits the week of November 22nd could be because these chains cater largely to business travellers.

Will the current COVID concerns disrupt the airport and hotel recovery? 

Visit to find out.  

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
What’s in Store for Self-Storage?
Nike + lululemon Update: Strong Performance Amid Expansion Plans
Many Ways to Win: Midwest Grocery Deep Dive
Retail, Reinvented: The Rise of the Pop-Up Shop
Navigating a New Normal in Business Travel & Commutes Office Index: February 2023 Recap
Retail Categories Staying Strong in Volatile Environment
Ulta Beauty: Poised for Success into 2023 Mall Index February 2023: Reasons for Continued Optimism
Catching Up With DICK’s & Hibbett
The Miami-Dade Arena: An Advertising Slam Dunk
Car Washes Revving Up Visits
Tuesday Morning and Sunrises in Home Furnishing
Dining & Valentine’s Day Recap
2023: The Year of the Discount Store
Aldi’s Success Highlights Growing Demand for Value Groceries
5 Retail & Service Categories Holding onto Pandemic Gains in 2023
Visitor Insights from Super Bowl 2023
2023 First Look: Home Improvement Update
How Are Target, Walmart, and Wholesale Clubs Faring in 2023?
Department Store Deep-Dive: Nordstrom
Off-Price: Taking Off in Uncertain Times
Checking in On Middle-Class Hubs
Who Attends the Super Bowl? Office Index: January 2023 Recap
Focusing On Fitness: Q4 and January Recap Mall Index: January 2023 – Returning Mall Normalcy?
Location Intelligence Insights Into Concert Attendance
Winning Dining Strategies for 2023
In-N-Out Burger: What to Expect as the Brand Moves East
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Migration Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start Office Index: October 2022 Recap Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season