Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a Placer.ai account? Log In

Thanksgiving Travel Update

by 
Shira Petrack
 on 
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 Placer.ai 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 Placer.ai Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Checking in With Discount & Dollar Stores
Peeking Behind The Curtain: Movie Theaters in 2023 and Beyond
Diving Into Brick-and-Mortar Eyewear
Getting Into Gear: Exploring The Auto Part Industry
Recapping Valentine’s Day 2024 Foot Traffic Trends
Fitness: A Strong Start to 2024
Dutch Bros. Continues To Percolate Visits
Super Bowl 2024: Placer.ai’s Postgame Foot Traffic Analysis
CAVA & sweetgreen Are On the Rise
Hats Off For Off-Price
Who Is Shopping at Malls?
Drilling Down Into Home Improvement
Walmart, Target, Costco & Superstore Space 2023 Recap
Catching Up With Shake Shack and Wingstop
Something To Chew On: Demographic Shifts at Steakhouse Chains
Placer.ai Office Index: Looking Back at 2023
Recapping RBI & Yum! Brands’ 2023 Foot Traffic Performance
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – January 2024
Who Shops at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters?
Three Taco Chains to Watch in 2024
Starbucks and Dunkin’: 2023 in Four Data Points
Who Visits CVS and Walgreens?
Fashionably Frugal: Apparel in 2023
Catching Up With Fast Food
The Grocery Sector in 2023: An End-of-Year Recap
3 Mall & Shopping Center Trends for 2024
Bakery Chains Rising To The Top
Placer.ai and Esri Partner to Deliver Geospatial Analytics
Tampa Tourism Trends
Going For The Green: The Changing Dynamics Of Country Clubs
Christmas Day Dining Recap
Major Urban Shopping Districts – Holiday Season Recap
Placer.ai Office Index: December 2023 Recap
Recapping the 2023 Holiday Shopping Season
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – December 2023
7 Retail & Dining Segments to Watch in 2024
Diving Into Holiday Season Favorites
Super Saturday and Christmas Eve Eve: A Winning Combination
3 Budget Grocery Chains Finishing 2023 On a High Note
Making It In America: International Chicken Chains Bring The Heat
Domestic Tourism at a Glance: A Q3 2023 Roundup
Five Pizza Chains On The Rise
Jewelry Brands Taking Advantage of the DTC Opportunity
Secondhand News: Kids' Thrift Shops
Recapping 2023’s Dining M&As
MetLife Stadium Kicks Off Football Season
Placer.ai Office Index: November 2023 Recap
Small Coffee Chains Brewing Big Success
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – November 2023
Thanksgiving Travel 2023 Recap
Checking in With Nike and Lululemon
Black Friday 2023 Retail Recap
Starbucks’ 2023 Holiday Menu & Red Cup Day Performance
Turkey Wednesday 2023
Who Attended the 2023 Pickleball Championship? 
Three Surprising Holiday Shopping Trends
What’s in Store for Ulta Beauty This Holiday Season?
Best Buy and Department Stores: A Holiday Deep Dive
Discount & Dollar Stores: Strength Toward The End of the Year
The State of Off-Price Retail: Discounts Seal The Deal
Placer Mall Index Recap: October 2023
Placer.ai Office Index: October 2023 Recap
Retail Corridors Ahead of the 2023 Holiday Season
California, Here Gap Comes
Checking in With Home Improvement
Getting Into the Glasses Game: Warby Parker Takes Over
Fitness Positioned for a Strong 2023 Finish
White Paper Recap: October 2023
Coffee Giants Brewing Up Business
Popeyes and Burger King Lead the Way
Diving into Yum!
Looking Ahead to Black Friday 2023
Blockbusters Drive Movie Theater Comeback
Crocs and Boot Barn: Shoe-Ins for Success
McDonald’s and Chipotle's Winning Recipe
The State Of Steak: Checking in With Texas Roadhouse
Pleasant Pastimes: Pickleball Potential Proves Potent
Who’s Driving Downtown Manhattan’s Weekend Revival?
Diving into Downtown Manhattan Foot Traffic Trends
Rite Aid: Rightsizing Right
Major League Soccer: Its Die-Hard and Casual Fans
The Anchor Recap: September 2023
Placer.ai Office Index: September 2023 Recap
Placer Mall Index Recap: September 2023
September White Paper Recap
The Consumer Habits of College Students
JCPenney: Rightsizing and Revitalizing
Pent-Up Demand Ahead of October Sales Events
4 Strategies Retailers are Using to Drive Traffic to Their Venues
5 Key Regional Grocery Players Impressing in 2023
Upscale Kitchenware Trending Up
Costco Finds More Room for Growth
Four C-Store Chains Making an A-Grade
National Parks + Outdoor Summer Activities
Diving Into Darden: Summer 2023 Update
The Summer Event Effect
Messi: Massive in Miami
Looking Back on Back to School 2023
The Anchor Recap: August 2023
Placer.ai Office Index: August 2023 Recap