By Wesley Case
January 4, 2023 at 5:00 am ET
A lot can — and did — change in a year, according to a measurement of consumer comfort via Morning Consult’s Return to Normal tracker.
As 2023 begins, we took stock of how Americans feel about a wide range of activities as the world ponders whether the coronavirus pandemic is “over,” or just entering another phase.
Comfort with several activities, including flying domestically and moviegoing, has reached highs since Morning Consult began tracking. And a clear majority of Americans are now comfortable with several other activities, perhaps signaling a year of growth for key industries.
While Southwest Airlines Co.’s thousands of canceled and delayed flights over the holiday season reminded the country just how fragile the air travel industry can be, more Americans than ever say they’re comfortable with taking a domestic flight. Three in 5 U.S. adults said they feel fine flying to a domestic location, according to a Morning Consult survey conducted Dec. 29-31, 2022. That’s up 20 percentage points from the same time last year and up about 10 points from the summer.
Public comfort with flying internationally has also jumped 18 points in the last year, from 28% to 46% as of the latest data — though Americans remain much more comfortable flying within the United States than outside of it.
Hollywood is hoping blockbusters like 2022’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” are merely steps in the long road to pandemic recovery, while the success of “Avatar: The Way of Water” has the new year off to a positive start.
There’s more encouraging news for theaters: 7 in 10 consumers indicated they are comfortable going to the movies, a new high for an activity Morning Consult has tracked since April 2020. Since the end of 2021, the public’s comfort with going to the movies has increased 23 points.
Younger consumers feel more comfortable heading back to the movies than their older peers, according to the latest survey. Eighty percent of Gen Z adults and 78% of millennials said they are fine with the activity, compared with 69% of Gen Xers and 61% of baby boomers.
As of the latest survey, 4 in 5 Americans said they are comfortable going out to eat, which tied a previous high last reached in early December. The share of 80% is up 19 points since the start of 2022.