This might be the first time I’ve ever written on a July 4th weekend. 

But between moving, vacation, and other serious shit I don’t want to talk about again, I’ve slacked a lot lately. Plus, I just feel like writing.

Independence weekend was always a big family holiday – a reunion on my mom’s side. My grandmother was born on July 4th, which perennially brought all my uncles and their families home from Texas and Florida to party at our cabin. 

My mom had four brothers and one half brother – the oldest – who everyone, including him, thought was their full brother until well into their 50s. 

What a Hallmark original movie that was.

My grandmother was pregnant with my oldest uncle when his father, “Pop,” lied about his age to enlist in World War II. He was badly injured in the Battle of the Bulge and hospitalized for so long that at home he was presumed to be dead. 

In the meantime, my grandmother married my mom’s dad and had four more kids, keeping a very big secret between her, my grandfather, and Pop, who returned but stayed out of the picture. Many years later, my grandmother divorced my biological grandfather and married Pop. 

Pop taught me how to fish, bowl, and call turkeys. I only remember my grandfather from pictures.

I’m still super close to three of my uncles – aka my druncles – who are as responsible for the person I’ve become as anyone aside from my mom and dad. I remember designated-driving them home from the sportsmen’s club, at a ripe-old 14, while one of them followed behind, ramming my rear bumper along the way. They taught me how to play poker and pool – arguably the singular thing I’m best at, even better than writing self-indulgent prose.

About a decade ago, the July 4th tradition started to fray. When my grandmother broke the salacious story, it unsurprisingly caused a rift. She died a couple years later and Pop wasn’t far behind. Then my dad died, my mom moved to Florida, and that was that.

Then, thanks to Facebook, we realized my mom’s family is so politically polarized that I might be the only one who hasn’t unfriended – or been unfriended by – any of them. Getting them all together at this point would be a ticking time bomb.

That part’s sad. 

The memories are anything but. And I’ll always have those to celebrate on July 4th

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Young people are more pessimistic about the economy than anyone else. If you were anywhere near me this week, you probably felt my blood boiling when Wall St. pundits touted the Conference Board report about booming consumer confidence in June. The fact that markets still move based on a small-sample survey taken in the mid-month is ludicrous. Economic sentiment in the second half of June sucked, as you know, thanks to me. And we’re now learning that the negative vibes are being driven by Gen Zs and younger Millennials, who are most badly feeling the crunch of inflation and housing prices. Hopefully, that’s all temporary, but I’ll bet you $1 the Conference Board report sucks in July. 

One group of young people who might be more financially optimistic this week are college athletes. SCOTUS opened the door for college athletes to be paid while in school, capitalizing off their name and likeness to fund things like educational benefits, setting a precedent for other compensation opportunities down the road. The vast majority of Americans agree with the court’s decision and much more, so expect this to be only the beginning. Sports agencies are salivating.   

The LGBTQ+ consumer population is a force to be reckoned with. To commemorate Pride Month, we published an awesome study about the state of LGBTQ+ consumers in America today. While disproportionately young, they are a price-conscious bunch, but have significant lifetime customer value to the brands that connect with them. What I found particularly interesting is the varying social media behaviors across different identity groups. Pay attention. It’s important. (The numbers represent the degree to which each group over- or under-indexes compared to the Gen Pop 13 and older.) 

A lot of Americans are still overstocking at the grocery store, but rising costs could be causing more and more to cut back. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. households are still shopping for groceries like they did at the height of the pandemic. One in five have acknowledged cutting back. Hopefully, those people have just shifted their spending to restaurants; unfortunately, it’s more likely they’re feeling a financial pinch. The people with smaller grocery carts significantly over-index as those whose jobs were affected (or lost) by COVID. 

Speaking of financial pinches, people aren’t loving the price of gas right now, especially Republicans. Look, nobody likes paying more for gas. But with most Americans doing pretty well financially right now, maybe they aren’t noticing the impact on their bottom line. Still, 75% of U.S. adults are worried about climbing fuel costs. It jumps to 87% among political righties. Is it because Republicans live in more suburban and rural areas, drive more, and drive bigger cars? Sure, to some degree. But they also blame the Biden administration and don’t have any faith it will get better before it gets worse.

One place we won’t be cutting back this year is our 4th of July revelry. After having little to no independence last year, Independence Day 2021 may damn-near be back to normal for most Americans. Eighty-one percent of holiday observers expect to party like it’s 1999, while 19% still expect to exercise some restraint. We studied all kinds of things about consumers’ plans this year, from fireworks to travel – and everything about the holiday is bigger in the Midwest. Also, Pittsburgh is in the Midwest, I don’t care what these stupid maps say.

People, especially this person, will be drinking this weekend. You need to just read this study about trends in libation consumption in its entirety because there’s too much goodness for me to explain while sticking to my self-imposed word count. Canned cocktails and hard seltzers are on the rise. Spirits are on the decline. Beer still rules. I may very well have one (or more) of everything before Monday. 

We published three other studies this week:

These were our most popular questions this week: 

Answer Key: The hotter the better; See prior answer; Snakes; Perfectly; All the time, but what really drives my kids crazy is when I draft this email in my head and mumble it out loud without realizing it.

Have an awesome holiday weekend, my dear friends.



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