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By Oksana Kishchuk

It has been 346 days since lockdowns began (at least here in Ottawa) and the COVID-19 pandemic began to really interfere with out lives. There are lots of things that we haven’t been able to do during that time. Celebrating a milestone birthday in-person with family members, taking a vacation to a different country, or even going to a sports game and being part of a big crowd.

As we reach this milestone of one year in a pandemic, many of us are feeling tired. We’ve missed out on a year of ‘normal’ living, and while following the rules and restrictions are important, it’s left us thinking about what things will look like once this is all over.

While we sit inside our homes during these cold months, what are we looking forward to the most once the pandemic is over? We recently asked some questions on our omnibus survey to get a glance at what Canadians are looking forward to the most.

Loud and clear, we miss our social connections. Above all else, we look forward to the return of spending time with family and friends. Measures like working and studying from home, and restricting socialization to ‘bubbles’ or even households, have really limited our ability to maintain connections with our loved ones.

Asked as an open-ended question about what we are looking forward to the most after the pandemic is over, family and friends overwhelmingly are cited the most.  Social isolation is taking its toll. Many of us are lonely and wishing for more opportunities for connection.

For a whole year we haven’t been able to experience life’s high’s (and lows) in the same way, with the people we are close to. And once everything is over, we look forward to sharing those experiences with our loved ones, once again.

We are also missing the ability to travel and just experience things outside of our bubbles. Second to missing out on connections with family and friends, the thing we are looking forward to the most is travel.

The furthest many of us have travelled since the start of the pandemic is our local grocery or drug store, and we are itching to go a bit further and do something other than wander the aisles. Like seeing our loved ones, with travel there has been clear messages and policies to limit it during the pandemic, and we are missing it.

So, what kind of experiences are we looking forward to?

Turns out the things we miss most aren’t opportunities for new experiences, but the things we used to be able to do. First and foremost, this is spending time with family and friends. Out of a given list, 51% ranked ‘spending time with family and friends’ as number one.

Much less popular, but still at the top of the list is doing something familiar, like visiting a favourite accommodation or attraction. Simply being somewhere else different from where you spent the pandemic and doing something that wasn’t considered safe during the pandemic, are also in the top 3 for at least 50%. The pandemic has us longing for what we used to call ‘normal’ and it’s starting to shape how we view our lives post-pandemic.

Choosing these types of activities/experiences (our favourites and the things we were explicitly told we shouldn’t/can’t do) are much more popular than doing something new. Once the pandemic is over, at least for the first little bit, we will be looking to resume as many of our usual habits as possible, before considering something entirely new.

There are some differences by age. Looking forward to spending time with loved one’s post-pandemic increases with age, while interest in going somewhere/doing something that wasn’t considered safe decreases with age. Younger Canadians are more likely to want to try something new but seeing family and friends and doing something we were missing out on are still the most important for everyone.

Since we just looking forward to getting back to our pre-pandemic lives, is there anything we used to do that we will leave behind?

For the majority of us the answer is no. There has been a lot of talk about the pandemic being a reset, and the chance to make changes. And while governments may be mulling this over, the average Canadian is not. For 58% of us, we plan to resume life as normal.

Among the few that are considering making a change, the biggest is changing travel habits, including considering different destinations, modes of transportation, or types of trips. Though this is much higher among older Canadians than younger.

Some say they would make a change to their dining out habits (6%), considerations for attending a large event/attraction (4%), or even just being around crowds (6%), but these are still small minorities.

The pandemic has left different age groups with a different post-pandemic outlook. Younger Canadians (those 18-29) are the least likely to resume life as normal, at 53%. Among this group, some see the pandemic as an opportunity to revaluate their career path (at 6% compared to just 3% among those 45-59), would consider shifting dining out habits (though still only 6%), and are reconsidering large events and crowds (also still small minorities).

THE UPSHOT

According to Oksana Kishchuk:  It may be the winter blues but right now what we miss most aren’t the ‘what if’s’, it’s what we used to have. Rather than triggering a surge in ‘bucket-list’ moments, the pandemic has us longing for what we already had, before the pandemic took it away. We are eager to have experiences, and do something besides sitting at home, but that doesn’t mean doing something new right away. We miss the things that used to be familiar to us. Going over to a friend’s house for a Friday night dinner or spending a weekend at your favourite getaway. Any sort of re-opening is still several months away, but in this moment, we want our old normal.

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METHODOLOGY

Our survey was conducted online with 2,000 Canadians aged 18 and over from January 29, 2021 to February 3, 2021. A random sample of panellists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

This poll was conducted and paid for by Abacus Data.

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METHODOLOGY

Our survey was conducted online with 2,000 Canadians aged 18 and over from January 29 to February 3, 2021. A random sample of panellists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

This poll was conducted and paid for by Abacus Data.

Good Decisions Require Good Data.