Key Takeaways:

  • Sports and exercising and gardening are anticipated to be the most sought-after post-lockdown hobbies
  • Screen time and playing games lose traction as Americans seek to be more active
  • Candle making, finger knitting, calligraphy, exercising and cooking for fun were the top first-time hobbies during lockdown

As most American cities were under strict social distancing regulations, with many adopting shelter-in-place rules, a lot of us had to find something pleasant to do to help pass the time and make this period bearable.

Along with impacting the economy, the job market and the healthcare system, the COVID-19 pandemic will most likely also have influenced every aspect of our personal lives – including the way we spend our free time. How much of this impact is already visible? And what do Americans’ favorite pastimes look like in the aftermath of the pandemic?

Our research team at STORAGECafé conducted a survey which allowed us to gauge people’s interests, as we move forward from lockdown into the post-lockdown period. Sifting through more than 1,000 responses, they helped us determine:

Americans’ Favorite Pastime Will See Drop in Engagement Post-Lockdown (Hint: Less TV, More Active Fun)

As you might expect, people in America dedicated more time to sedentary indoor pastimes during lockdown. But as soon as social distancing restrictions are lifted completely, most people plan to dive into outdoor activities such as sports and gardening.


According to our survey, watching TV or streamed media will remain Americans’ favorite free time activity. However, compared to the lockdown period when 55% of respondents reported spending an average of 220 minutes per day watching TV, only 37% of respondents state they intend to engage in this activity (199 minutes/day on avg.) once shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted. In fact, respondents are 18% less likely to spend time in front of a TV post-lockdown.

As they will be able to embrace the outdoors again, most people plan to jump to sports and exercising as their second-favorite leisure activity. This hobby is expected to see a 7% surge as compared to the lockdown period. Our respondents anticipate spending 106 minutes daily trying to stay fit. This increased interest in exercising is welcome given that the lockdown period may have caused weight gain problems for many people. This is according to a recent WebMD article that highlights the results of a domestic survey of more than 1,000 US readers. They report that as many as half of women and almost one-quarter of men claimed to have gained weight as a result of COVID-19 quarantine.

Along with watching TV and exercising, reading will keep people in America busy – even if it’s while they’re on the bus or the train. As it happens, reading for leisure ranked third in people’s preferences with 27% of respondents claiming they plan to spend approx. 105 minutes daily on average reading a book.

Staying indoors for a longer period of time has inspired the inner cook in many people – perhaps as a result of watching so many cooking shows on TV during lockdown! As many as 22% of our survey respondents indicated that they intend to cook for about 99 minutes a day on average post-lockdown. 

As getting involved in creative activities is a proven way to relax and enjoy spare time, many people are taking more notice of their artistic streak. Creative hobbies ranked fifth in Americans’ preferences, both during lockdown and post-lockdown. Continuing what they picked up while staying at home, 22% of respondents anticipate spending 122 minutes daily on average on craft activities post-lockdown.

Those that have recently discovered the joys of gardening claim they intend to allocate more time to it post-lockdown: 17% of respondents – a 2% increase compared to the lockdown period – declared they will engage in gardening and houseplant care post-lockdown. This brings up the question of storage and whether homes are capable of holding all that gardening equipment. The good news is there’s always self storage to turn to for the surplus items, and most cities have lots of good options. According to one of our latest reports, the self storage market is on a steady growth path with more than 51.9 million rentable square feet finalized in 2019 alone.

Among the hobbies that are expected to lose ground post-lockdown, gaming will see a 4% decline compared to the lockdown period. Only 13% of respondents reported that they intend to spend time playing games in the near future (151 minutes/ day).

All that time spent indoors has eventually pushed Americans away from their screens. As we move into post-lockdown,  more people plan to shy away from using their devices compared to before.

Screen Time to Decrease Most Post-Lockdown

If something good can ever be associated with this lockdown period, it is that it ultimately caused screen time to lose ground to more energetic and outdoor activities.

Screen time is in fact the leading activity they now intend to do less of, as they anticipate spending 28 minutes less than they were on this before the pandemic. Watching TV or streamed media takes second spot in the list of top pastimes that will take up less time, with Americans planning to spend less than 22 minutes involved in this activity post-lockdown. As they plan to spend 11 minutes less on playing games (both board games and video games) post-pandemic as compared to during the lockdown, it appears people in America wish to turn away from sedentary and indoor-oriented hobbies.

Change in Time Spent on Hobbies Post-Lockdown

Post-Lockdown Public Events Don’t Lose Their Appeal for Most Americans

To investigate people’s intentions to participate in public events post-lockdown, we asked our respondents to report on how likely they are to attend outdoor concerts, fairs and other similar events once they are allowed free access to them again. It appears that most Americans are in favor of attending recreational events in public post-lockdown, as 38% of respondents claimed it is likely or very likely they will do so in the immediate future. However, it seems that about 34% of respondents reported that it is either unlikely or very unlikely they will do so. Another 28% of respondents are still undecided on this matter. Overall, most people are open to resuming their usual social activities post-lockdown, even though another large fraction is displaying caution in the face of the potential challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.

Hobby Budgeting: College-Age Americans Are the Greatest Spenders

Apart from looking into types of hobbies and their frequency, we also tried to gauge how much money people are spending on their favorite pastimes. Our survey results revealed that people in America use, on average, 17% of their income on activities related to their favorite pastimes.

Americans' Leisure Budget in 2020

The greatest spenders in this category are 18- to 24-year-olds, who dish out 23% of their budget on their hobbies, followed closely by 35- to 44-year-olds, who report using 22% of their income on their preferred pastimes. While both 45- to 54-year-olds and those aged 65 and over claim to spend 16% of their income on leisure activities, it appears that those in the 55- to 64-years-old category are spending the least on hobbies (14% of income).

New Hobbies that Won Americans’ Time During Lockdown: From Sewing to Learning How to Code to Ventriloquism

A total of 25% of the respondents to our survey reported taking up a new hobby during lockdown. Post-lockdown, a staggering 79% of those who picked up a new hobby stated they would like to stick to it long-term.

Top 10 New Lockdown Hobbies

As Americans have spent a long time indoors it’s hardly surprising that arts and crafts was the most popular new lockdown hobby – 19% of respondents picked some arts and crafts-related activity. Sewing – including masks that helped with personal protection during this period – accounted for most of the votes of people picking arts and crafts. Painting and drawing seemed to be among the favorite activities in their category. Crocheting, knitting, quilting and candle-making seemed to equally pique the interest of people trying their hand at arts and crafts for the first time. Similarly, watercolor painting picked up some votes as a first-time hobby.

Surprisingly enough, creative crafts that many of us thought lost for our generation proved attractive once more as nice ways to keep ourselves busy when outdoor fun is limited. Our homes will most likely shine with character and unique décor as many people engaged in embroidery, finger knitting and tatting. Alongside pottery, woodworking and jewelry making, calligraphy, sketching and junk journaling scored a few points in terms of interest in a new hobby.

Having spent most of their free time around the house recently, many respondents express enthusiasm for energetic new pastimes. In this category, they name exercising as their preferred activity, followed by walking, running and going to the gym. Weightlifting, hooping and doing sit-ups also captured the general interest for a new hobby. As people in America spent more time confined to their homes, they developed greater appreciation of either outdoor or indoor fitness-related activities – positive ways to help them relax or get into shape.

A great deal of people decided to make the most of their free time which means that they took to cooking as a favorite new lockdown hobby. In fact, 8.2% of respondents expressed interest in cooking actual meals for the first time. Encouraged by the multitude of online recipes and cooking classes available, 5% of respondents tried out baking as a new hobby, while a smaller fraction of our respondents undertook juicing as a first-time activity.

One of the perks of the lockdown period is that it provided ample opportunity for self-development-related hobbies. About 8% of people taking our survey stated they took up a new hobby that helped them either learn a new skill or sharpen an existing one.  In fact, learning a new language and also learning web design and coding were among the most preferred new hobbies. Taking up yoga for the first time was another leisure activity on Americans’ radar. A smaller percentage of respondents were seeking religious guidance by looking into Bible study, Buddhism and meditation. The more ambitious ones tried out dieting for the first time, as an attempt to get healthier while being away from the world.

Alongside board games – including puzzles – and video games, word games also gained first-time popularity among people challenged to find new exciting pastimes. Brain-training games and Lego were less popular than the previous types of games, but they still captivated a number of people willing to pick up a new hobby.

For some people, lockdown was primetime for DIY projects as a newly-acquired hobby. Some of them were interested in general DIY projects, while others professed enthusiasm for interior design and manual labor. Creative writing was also among people’s reported new hobbies.

A small fraction of respondents felt compelled to look into financially oriented new interests, with some of the respondents researching real estate and others looking into both creating a new business and investing on Stash. As staying at home became almost ubiquitous, people were reluctant to engage in socially oriented new endeavors. However, some of them were willing to take up babysitting or to simply help others.

To a smaller extent, Americans leaned towards an eclectic cocktail of recreational activities which include listening to music, relaxing and socializing. Others turned to learning how to put on make-up and how to do their hair.

Longing for the elusive outdoors, a small fraction of people in America reported taking up bird watching and fishing, hobbies that they plan to stick to long-term.

Thinking out of the box can help when coming out of difficult situations, and some Americans did just that: They turned to ventriloquism, riding scooters or getting a tattoo. Moreover, making soft tie blankets piqued people’s interest just as much as designing clothes did.

Are your hobbies changing in any way? Let us know in the comments section below.

Methodology

STORAGECafé is a national storage marketplace that enables Americans to easily find self storage units throughout the United States.

To draw up this report, STORAGECafé’s research team analyzed data provided by a survey that was conducted between May 14 and May 25, 2020 on the rentcafe.com and point2homes.com websites, sister divisions of STORAGECafé. A total of 1,060 people aged 18 and over took the survey.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to STORAGECafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.

Author

Mirela is a creative writer for STORAGECafé. With an academic background in English and translation, Mirela now covers a range of topics including real estate trends, lifestyle and economy. Her previous experience in proofreading academic articles has inspired Mirela to choose a writing career path. In her free time, Mirela enjoys reading, but also hiking and creating art. You can contact Mirela via email.

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