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Thanksgiving week sees less travel but long lines at grocery stores

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 10:34 PM CST
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Iowa (KCRG) -State troopers say this year, they aren’t seeing nearly as many people travelling for Thanksgiving Day. Instead, many people are opting to stay home and not visit family because of COVID-19...leaving the highways empty this year. But more people at home also means some local businesses are seeing an unexpected boost in sales.

During a normal year, the Thanksgiving holiday means plenty of traffic from people rushing to get home. But this year, travel on the roads is down by more than 10%.

“Now I have seen a few travelers today, going across, you can see they’ve got everything loaded up in their car, dogs in the backseat and everything else with the children, but for the most part I would say travel is down significantly,” says Senior State Trooper Bob Conrad. Trooper Conrad says less traffic can mean more danger. He says when people see less cars, they can be more likely to speed or try to drive drunk. “Thanksgiving is one of our most deadly holidays we see in the state of Iowa. It’s right up there with the Fourth of July. So when we think of people traveling for the holidays, it’s people traveling all across the United states being tired, being distracted, being impaired,” says Conrad.

Fewer cars on the road also means more families staying home for Thanksgiving dinner. And while some businesses have taken a hit during the pandemic, grocery stores say they’re as busy as ever helping people with their holiday shopping.

The Corridor Business Journal says retail sales right now are up 10% compared to this time in 2019.

And, many local grocery stores are seeing that firsthand. Bread Garden Market in Iowa City says it sold nearly 60 more of it’s pre-made Thanksgiving dinners than last year...and sold out early, says Sarah King, floor manager at Bread Garden Market.

New Pioneer Food Co-op is also seeing it’s usual crowds ahead of Thanksgiving Day, but more of it’s shoppers are trying to stay out of the store. “We are seeing that people are still going to celebrate, even if they are staying home...We’re seeing an uptick in online ordering again, it’s gone up since the summer which is good, people are trying to find a safe way to shop,” says Amy Hospodarsky, Brand Manager at New Pioneer Food Cooperative.

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