Summer not your favorite time of year? You’re not alone

Originally posted: MAY 29, 22 08:17 ETBy Harry Enten, CNN

(CNN) — Yes, summer starts now. This is not me saying it. It’s the American people. Poll after poll has found that more Americans think Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer than any other occasion (for example, the start of baseball season or the opening of swimming pools).

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 occasion:

1. Summer isn’t most people’s favorite time.

This one surprised me a bit. Most people prefer warm weather to cool weather, and I always remembered that summer was free time. Yet only 29% of Americans said summer was their favorite season 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 America’s favorite. Often it is May, October or December.

Of course, there are regional variations. Americans in the north of the country are much more likely to cite summer as their favorite season than those in the south. Southerners are more likely to mention spring.

I guess New Englanders don’t like the cold fronts of spring, while Southerners don’t like the sweltering heat of summer.

2. Seventy-two degrees is usually fair.

One way to deal with the summer heat is to turn on the air conditioning. About 90% of Americans have AC, which is more than any country except Japan. About 70% have central air conditioning.

A National Opinion Research Center poll last year asked those with central air conditioning what temperatures they set their thermostats to during the day and night. During the day, the most popular answer was 72 degrees. During the night, the most popular answer was 72 degrees.

There is a wide range of data, with some people going as high as 55 degrees and others as high as 76 degrees. In fact, 13% of all those with central air conditioning said they slept in a temperature of 67 degrees or less during the summer. About 40% to 45% of people said they kept their thermostats above 72 degrees during the day and night.

What most Americans agree on 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 big winner was windows closed with the air conditioning on at 65%, compared to 30% who said the windows were open.

3. Not going on vacation this weekend? Same here.

This Memorial Day weekend, about 40 million Americans are expected to go on vacation, according to AAA. Most of these people (about 35 million) plan to travel by car. That means most Americans aren’t going on a trip 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 will definitely take one.

The biggest differences between people who go 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 aged 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 don’t go on vacation, it will be because of prices. Gasoline, flight, hotel and accommodation prices have been listed as far more important factors in planning summer vacations than determining time off or the coronavirus scare.

4. Most people just want to relax in the summer.

If summer is known for taking vacations, then what do we actually want to do on those vacations? Well, it seems most of us just want to be lazy.

That same Washington Post poll found that 76% of Americans said relaxing was something they liked to do on vacation. The next step (and within the margin of error of this result) was to eat out (75%). Going to the beach or swimming pool took third place with 65%.

No other option reached majority.

Indeed, it seems that Americans don’t want to expend too much energy during the summer months. Other polls indicate that Americans are far less likely to want to engage in sporting activities such as playing sports or running than simply enjoying a meal this summer vacation.

5. Summer vacation ends at many different times.

As quickly as summer started, I hate to tell you it will end just as quickly. When I was a child, Labor Day marked this point. It was then that school, to my great eternal hatred, started again. Polls show that more people think Labor Day marks the end of summer than the autumnal equinox.

What’s interesting is that it’s sort of a North and Middle Atlantic centric viewpoint. 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 nationwide returned to school by August 2. Almost half (43%) were back in school by mid-August. This included the majority of students from the Interior South (i.e. Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas).

This might explain why I’ve always felt like back-to-school ads aired too early in the summer. It turns out that for many children, summer simply ended earlier.

Of course, we probably don’t need these ads running in late May, as has happened in recent years. We should give the kids a break.

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