I usually take off this weekend. 

But since the holiday isn’t until Tuesday, I’ll save one of my rare hiatuses for Labor Day or an impromptu summer bailout when I need a break – maybe next weekend. You, people, yell at me when I slack, so I have to pick my spots.

Fourth of July weekend is a big deal around here. It’s my grandmother’s birthday, so, every year my extended family – from as far away as Houston and Orlando – always converged on our cabin in Appalachia, for a food and lite beer bender. We played horseshoes and poker, swam in the river, and fired off amateur (but awesome) fireworks to ring in the nation’s birthday. It was better than Christmas and that’s saying something.

It all changed after my grandmother died. The glue dissolved. 

But we’ve made it new. The food, beer, fireworks, and horseshoes are still there. Volleyball has been added to the mix. But now it’s our cabin neighbors – all of whom lost matriarchs and patriarchs over the last decade – forming our new collective family and traditions. 

To our right, my brother-from-another-mother, Ben, makes enough wood-fired pizzas and fresh-cut french fries to feed an army. Dave rotisseries a venison hind-quarter all day, the only deer meat I’ve ever been able to tolerate. To our left, Steve parades out a collection of bourbons you couldn’t find in all of Kentucky, while his son Wade puts on a professional-grade firework display that has dogs hiding under the bed three miles away. 

Late at night, they’ll cajole me into singing and playing guitar by the fire, which I would gladly do without the cajoling anyway. The next morning, I’ll make eggs benedict for 20. It’s a lot of poaching and hollandaise when you’re that hungover.

We’re now into the fourth generation of our little cabin commune. The dozen-plus kids range from 1 to 16, though you wouldn’t know it because they play together seamlessly – and autonomously. Noelle is the ringleader and sometimes-babysitter, which she loves more than anything, because in our biological family she was always the youngest. She runs a tight ship, which is clutch when the parents are sneaking cigarettes.  

Our data say that only 61% of Americans will celebrate the Fourth of July holiday this year. I feel sorry for the other 39%. 

They don’t know what they’re missing.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Willingness to fly has improved a lot this year, despite the airline chaos of the last week. Air travelers are showing their lowest level of reluctance about booking flights than they have in a long time, as concerns over costs and flight delays dissipated significantly since the beginning of 2023. That’s good, because people who’ve traveled in the past six months are far more likely to report being happy, compared to those who haven’t. Interestingly, though, travelers span the emotional spectrum – but overall report better well-being. 

Speaking of stress, the pending return of student loan payments isn’t helping. In our 3 Things to Know this week, we looked at the incredibly high correlation between concern over the October student debt revival and stress. It’s not to say the pending loan bills are the main drivers of that stress – only that financial insecurity overall is bad for our emotional health. We also studied the one-fourth of U.S. adults who had to pay bank overdraft fees in the past year (Citi customers over-index the most). Better news: consumer fears over a potential recession have reached their lowest levels since we began tracking them last September. 

More on student loan payments, our webinar this week was the best-attended one we’ve had since the early days of COVID. That’s because we studied over 200 consumer brands to rank those whose customers had the highest and lowest rates of student debt, heading into the holiday retail season. Naturally, we only showed the top and bottom three brands in a few categories – which you can see here –  because we’re not dumb enough to give it all away for free. If you want to see where your company ranks, just ask nicely. 

Health and wellness coaches are way more prevalent and popular than I realized. Eighteen percent of U.S. adults say they’ve used a personal coach to help them reach their personal wellness goals and another 18% say they’re interested in finding one – those are strong adoption curve metrics no matter how you slice it. Intent crosses a diverse set of consumer segments, from craftsmen and laborers to fully remote “office” workers. Getting more physically fit is the number one goal but improving sleep comes in a strong second. 

Local outlets are still number one for breaking news. Fifty-two percent of Americans say they turn first to local broadcast news stations, local news websites, or national network websites for emerging stories. Interestingly, those numbers hold true among Gen Z as well. The popularity of national cable news networks keeps sliding (though still much more of a go-to for Baby Boomers) and is now in a tie with social media sites. In this same study, we found that Amazon has increased its lead over Google as the top site to search for and research products, while TikTok fell. 

More awesomeness from the InsightStore™ this week:

The most popular questions this week:

Answer Key: Hopefully never; Very; Definitely not; You tell me; 8 out of 10; For one of my dogs maybe.

Have a great holiday weekend my friends.


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