Technology Helps the World go ‘Round this Holiday Season

Rustic Thankgiving Dinner

With Thanksgiving just two days away, I do not envy those who have yet to complete their in-store grocery shopping. If you don’t know already, bewarned: grocery stores this week will make you want to skip the holiday all together. At least it did for me the first time I hosted for my family and grossly underestimated how many others would be frantically finishing their shopping list the day before too. Leaving work that Wednesday evening so many moons ago as a naïve 20-something, I thought the store would be a ghost town except for the few like myself who didn’t have the day off and needed to pick up a few items. I couldn’t have been more wrong.


The checkout lines were down the aisles, people bumped into you, reached over you, cut in front of you … basically, it was an experience I never want to have again – and haven’t because even to this day I swear off entering grocery stores this week.

Tech-Driven Hosts

You can imagine my surprise when I received a new survey this week from dunnhumby, a customer science company specializing in analyzing data from the largest retailers and grocers in the world, which said 59 percent of American millennials (my age bracket) planned to host Thanksgiving this year. Chuckling to myself – and thinking I knew better than to get myself on the hook with that again – I read that technology has become a lifesaver when it comes to holiday grocery shopping.

The study reports that 16 percent of millennials plan to use an online grocery delivery service like Peapod, FreshDirect, AmazonFresh or Blue Apron. And, 2 out of 10 Americans age 25 to 34 plan on buying Thanksgiving groceries with a food delivery app, such as Instacart, Shipt and Google Express. “This is an incredibly sharp contrast with the outlook for their parents and grandparents, as none of those 55 years old and older reported plans to use either of these services,” the study finds.

Technology saves us once again from the traditional stress of pulling into the grocery store parking lot and knowing what lies ahead of you. These apps didn’t exist when I hosted. However, traditional shopping has not completely gone out the window as dunnhumby reports that 92 percent of Americans plan to buy at least some of their Thanksgiving groceries at the local supermarket. Hopefully you have already completed this task, but there are still those out there like me that will go out tomorrow to buy the last few things on their list. “Over a quarter – 27 percent – are last-minute food shoppers, planning to spend the eve of the holiday shopping for groceries,” the study reports.

Bending Traditions

Are you tired of those same lumpy mashed potatoes your grandma makes every year? dunnhumby’s study finds that most millennial hosts will break from tradition this year and use online resources for new cooking ideas and recipes. ThinkstockPhotos-140300584“Nearly half – 48 percent – of 25 to 34 year olds say they plan on using social media websites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook – far above the national average of 27 percent,” dunnhumby reports. “This age group is also the most likely to turn to other online and mobile resources such as recipe apps and food blogs.”

What do you think of Friendsgiving dinner? I first attended one about seven years ago and thought it was one of the best ideas anyone had come up with in a long time. We all brought a dish, alcohol to drink and the result was a stress-free, happy Thanksgiving. Friendsgiving is becoming more popular as 42 percent of 25 to 34 year olds and 37 percent of 18 to 24 year olds plan to host or attend one this year.

One can see the appeal of being around the people you communicate with more regularly instead of being forced to answer a bunch of personal questions from distant relatives who all of a sudden want to know what’s going on in your life. Despite all the changes to the holiday, there are some traditions that last a lifetime.

Turkey continues to be the meat-of-choice for the holiday with 85 percent of respondents saying the poultry is a stable on their dining room tables. The report also found a majority of men – 55 percent – plan to watch football after their Thanksgiving meal and some Americans will race out to begin their Christmas shopping. Hello Black Friday!

We have all been bombarded the past couple of weeks with emails, mailers, and TV and radio commercials promoting the “best sales of the year” and what time it starts this year. Did you know a lot of stores’ Black Friday sales begin at 6 and 7 pm on Thanksgiving? People will always rush to the stores to start their shopping, but dunnhumby surprisingly reported that only 30 percent of Americans believe that Thanksgiving is also a day for shopping.  

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