There are certain Thanksgiving traditions the American public has come to know and love: indulging in a filling meal, watching football, and taking in the wonder of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Though many people opt to watch the parade from home, for years, spectators have lined the streets of New York City to take in the action in person.
Last year, the Thanksgiving Day Parade was closed to spectators. At the time, coronavirus cases were surging, and in the absence of vaccines, encouraging crowds to gather even in an outdoor setting didn't read like a smart move.
But Macy's has just announced that fans of the big event will be allowed to watch the parade in person this year. And that could work wonders for New York City's hotels and small businesses alike.
Tourism has taken a hit
Though New York City tourism picked up over the summer, the city lost out on loads of revenue in 2020 when the coronavirus outbreak kept visitors away. Even now, many hotels are struggling to cover their expenses and bring furloughed staff back at full capacity. Therefore, this recent announcement is a very welcome piece of news for not just hotels but also income property owners who may be able to charge a premium for Thanksgiving weekend bookings.
Normally, the Thanksgiving Day Parade draws in crowds of almost 3.5 million people, plus 8,000 volunteers. And while not all of those people need lodging, it's not uncommon for visitors to come from afar to view the parade in person.
Local businesses could benefit tremendously from this change, too. Bringing more tourists to the city means increasing foot traffic at stores, cafes, and restaurants.
Many local businesses have shuttered in the course of the pandemic due to not being able to compensate for a lack of revenue in 2020. That's left New York City's commercial landlords with vacancies to fill. A revenue surge could spare some businesses from going a similar route, which could really benefit real estate investors.
The new rules
Now, this year's Thanksgiving Day Parade will come with some ground rules. For one thing, all volunteer participants and staff must present proof of a coronavirus vaccine. And social distancing measures will be implemented along the parade's route in an effort to prevent overcrowding.
Meanwhile, New York City has officially begun enforcing its vaccine requirement for indoor businesses like restaurants and entertainment venues. Whether that helps or hurts Thanksgiving-related tourism is to be determined.
On the one hand, if visitors to the city feel more secure going to theaters and dining indoors, they may be more apt to book travel plans. The unvaccinated, however, are more likely to stay away due to the high level of restrictions they face.
Either way, last year's holiday season was a major disappointment for New York City hotels and businesses. And so real estate investors and local business owners alike will have to hope that the 2021 holiday season constitutes a vast improvement, no matter what it actually ends up looking like.