2019 Memorial Day Weekend Is Here!

Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, is a day to honor the fallen heroes who have served in the US military armed forces. Along with this tradition of solemn remembrance, Memorial Day Weekend is also time to be with family and friends. Getting together often involves travel and Memorial Day weekend is one of the heaviest travel weekends of the year. This year, AAA predicts over 43 million Americans will hit the road. AYTM surveyed 1,000 US consumers to find out what they have planned for the weekend including where they are headed and their favorite foods to eat at the bbq.

Not Leaving on a Jet Plane

In a bit of a surprising result, just 30% of respondents said they are heading out of town for Memorial Day Weekend, with the other 70% sticking close to home. Consumers ages 18-44 and those with annual incomes over $50,000 were more likely to be traveling. In a not surprising result, 84% of those traveling are going by car. No other modes of holiday travel came anywhere close: plane (10%), bus (2%), train (2%), boat (1%), and other (1%).

Road trips with family can be full of adventure and fun but they also have their downsides. We asked the car travelers to rank their most frustrating car travel challenges. Here is what they had to say:

  • 16% – Traffic
  • 13% – Distracted drivers
  • 13% – High gas prices
  • 12% – Road construction/poor road signage
  • 12% – Weather conditions
  • 12% – Car trouble
  • 9% – Keeping the family entertained for hours
  • 8% – No easy place to put your phone for use as a navigation device
  • 5% – Lack of charging stations for electric cars

Where Are You Headed?

The leading reason for traveling over Memorial Day Weekend is visiting family chosen by 60% of respondents. Visiting friends was next with 34%, followed by attending a Memorial Day event (18%), and seeing a new country/state/city (17%). As far as the type of locales visited, 42% are traveling to the city, 29% hitting the beach, 22% visiting the countryside, 21% heading to a lake/river, 15% going to the mountains, and 3% will be traveling internationally. Men were more likely than women to be visiting cities. Top Memorial Day travel destinations include Atlanta, Charlotte, Denver, Las Vegas, Nashville, and Orlando.

Honoring the Fallen

Memorial Day was created to honor members of the military who have given their lives for our freedoms. Commemorative events honoring the fallen include parades, concerts, 5K runs, outdoor festivals, and more. Approximately one-third of respondents (32%) plan to attend a Memorial Day event that honors fallen soldiers. The top four locations for these events are:

  1. 42% – Public park
  2. 27% – City center
  3. 19% – Cemetery
  4. 11% – War memorial or monument

Food, Glorious Food

Memorial Day Weekend is considered the official kickoff to the summer season and for those who follow fashion traditions, it is finally time to break out those white jeans. However, you might not want to wear them to the barbecue. Speaking of grilling, 66% of consumers will be enjoying a Memorial Day barbecue. 41% will be heading over to a friend or relative’s home, 21% are hosting at their house, and 5% are letting the professionals handle it and eating at a restaurant.

Now to get to the meat of the matter. Are you curious what the best Memorial Day barbecue entree is? This photo might give it away.

Hamburgers take the top spot according to 37% of barbecue attendees. The closest competitor was ribs with 21%, then steak (11%), hot dogs (7%), pulled pork (6%), fried chicken (5%), beef brisket (4%), kebabs (3%), and in last place seafood with 3%. So you might NOT want to throw some shrimp on the barbie.

Even though hot dogs were the fourth most popular barbecue entree, if you are serving them you should know that we settled the great hot dog debate — ketchup vs. mustard. And drumroll please…ketchup wins as best hot dog condiment chosen by 50% of hot dog lovers. Mustard garnered 41% and other choices such as hot sauce, mayo, and ranch dressing were chosen by just 2% each. Alas, we did not settle the “ketchup” vs. “catsup” debate but that is for another blog post.

And what about the best side dishes? We have you covered there too. 32% of barbecue attendees agree that the best side dish is potato salad. Followed by:

  • 20% – Corn on the cob
  • 17% – Baked beans
  • 11% – Pasta salad
  • 9% – Macaroni salad
  • 4% – Cole slaw
  • 4% – Green salad
  • 2% – Other
  • 2% – Pickles

Prices that Can’t Be Beat

Retailers are always looking for a good reason to have a sale and Memorial Day Weekend fits the bill. Sales this weekend are often on big ticket items like cars, furniture, and mattresses but in reality most anything you need will be discounted. 40% of respondents said they are planning to shop the sales over the weekend. Most popular products these shoppers will be looking for include: clothing (63%), housewares (29%), electronics (26%), barbecue grills (21%), appliances (16%), and furniture (15%). Auto makers take heed, just 6% of Memorial Day sale goers said they would be shopping for a new car/truck and only 3% will be on the hunt for a used car/truck.

The Takeaways

According to the majority of our respondents, this year is a year to stay home over the Memorial Day Weekend. Among those who are traveling, they plan to hit the road and get to their destination by car. Traffic and distracted drivers were the top two road trip frustrations. The observance of Memorial Day is both a solemn time to remember fallen soldiers and also a time to gather with family. The predominant type of family gathering is the backyard barbecue. If you haven’t planned your menu yet, pro tip — get hamburgers and potato salad. And don’t forget to hit those Memorial Day sales, there are definitely some good deals to be had.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Allie Smith
Allie Smith is the former Director of Charts for eMarketer with over 15 years of experience in the world of market research. Her love for charts and graphs is only outweighed by her love for her whippets. She spends her free time watching Law & Order reruns while knitting cute hats for dogs.