Yes, summer starts now. This is not me saying it. It’s the American people. In poll after poll, more Americans believe that Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) marks the unofficial start of summer than any other occasion (for example, the start of baseball season or the opening of swimming pools ). .
So, as the calendar shifts from the rebirth of spring to the sweltering heat of summer in this part of the world, here are five stats to mark the moment:
1. Summer isn’t most people’s favorite time of year.
This one surprised me a bit. Most people prefer warmer weather to cooler weather, and I always remember summer as a time of leisure. However, only 29% of Americans said summer was their favorite time in a 2020 CBS News poll. Fall (27%) and spring (25%) were within the margin of error. A previous CBS News poll from 2013 had spring and summer tied at 33% for favorite season.
Polls often show none of the summer weather months (June, July, or August) as Americans’ favorites. It is often May, October or December.
Of course, there are regional variations. Americans in the north of the country are much more likely to consider summer their favorite season than those in the south. Southerners are more likely to prefer spring.
I think New Yorkers don’t like the cold fronts of spring, while Southerners don’t like the sweltering heat of summer.
2. Twenty-two degrees centigrade is usually the right temperature
One way to deal with the summer heat is to turn on the air conditioning. About 90% of Americans are known to have air conditioning, which is more than any country except Japan. About 70% have central air conditioning.
A survey last year by the National Opinion Research Center asked those with central air conditioning what their thermostat temperatures were day and night. During the day, the most popular answer was 22 degrees Celsius. Overnight, the most popular answer was 22 degrees Celsius.
There’s a lot of variety in the data, with some people going as low as 12.7 degrees Celsius and others hitting 24.4 degrees. In fact, 13% of all those with central air conditioning reported sleeping at 19.4 degrees Celsius or lower during the summer. About 40-45% of people said they kept thermostats above 22 degrees Celsius day and night.
What most Americans agree is that having air conditioning is better than not having it. A 2019 CBS News poll asked whether Americans would rather have the windows open or the windows closed with the air conditioning on on a hot summer day. The winning response, of course, was windows closed with air conditioning, 65% of people, compared to 30% who said they preferred windows open.
3. Not going on vacation this weekend? Neither do I
This Memorial Day weekend, about 40 million Americans are expected to take vacations, according to the AAA. Most of these people (about 35 million) plan to travel by car. That means most Americans won’t be traveling this weekend.
However, most Americans seem to want to take a vacation this summer. A Washington Post-Schar School poll conducted in April and May found that 72% of Americans plan to take a vacation away from home this summer, although only 40% say they definitely do.
The biggest splits in whether someone goes on vacation are, perhaps unsurprisingly, age and income. Those under 35 (82%) say they are much more likely to say they plan to take a vacation away from home than those 65 and over (60%). Those earning $100,000 or more are more likely to say they will travel (87%) than those earning less than $50,000 a year (59%).
If people end up not going on vacation, it will be because of the prices. Gas prices, flights, hotels and accommodation were seen as far more important factors in planning summer vacations than realizing the best time or coronavirus scare.
4. Most people just want to relax in the summer.
If summer is known to be a vacation season, then what do we want to do on that vacation? Well, it seems most of us just want to laze around.
The same Washington Post poll found that 76% of Americans said relaxing was something they enjoyed doing on vacation. Then (and within the margin of error of this result) eating out (75%). Going to the beach or pool ranked third at 65%.
No other option reached majority.
In fact, it seems that Americans don’t want to expend a lot of energy during the summer months. Other polls indicate that Americans are far less likely to indulge in sporting activities like sports or running than simply eat a meal during the summer vacation.
5. Summer vacation ends at several different times.
As quickly as summer has begun, I regret to inform you that it will end just as quickly. When I was a child, Labor Day (1st Monday in September) marked this point. It was then that school, to my eternal hatred, resumed. Polls show that more people think Labor Day marks the end of summer than the autumnal equinox.
What is interesting is that it is a type of view centered on the North Central Atlantic. A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center found that only 23% of American college students return to school after Labor Day. In New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, more than 80% of school districts surveyed returned to school after Labor Day.
That year, 2% of students across the country returned to school by August 2. Almost half (43%) were back in school by mid-August. This included most students from the Southern Interior (i.e. Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas).
This may explain why I’ve always felt like back-to-school announcements come too early this summer. It turns out that for many children, summer simply ended early.
Of course, we probably don’t need the ads running at the end of May, as has happened in recent years. We should give children rest.