Consumer Trends

How consumers will use restaurants this holiday season

Technomic tracks the menu, order size and takeout trends impacting 2020 holiday meals.
Photograph: Shutterstock

With the recent spike in coronavirus cases, the CDC is strongly recommending against travel this holiday season. That means most Americans will be celebrating Christmas and New Year’s close to home in smaller gatherings.

That change can be beneficial to local restaurants. A recent survey conducted by Technomic, Restaurant Business’ sister company, found that consumers intend to patronize restaurants for off-premise meals and other foodservice needs. But operators need to target the trends that are making the 2020 winter holidays different from past seasons.

To start, 43% of consumers say their holiday gathering will be smaller than usual this year, but a good percentage will order their food from a restaurant.

Gatherings of three to five people are the most prevalent, and of these, 47% intend to order their entire meal from a restaurant. For those celebrating as singles and couples, 22% say they will purchase their meal from a restaurant. The implications: Operators should offer festive menus geared to these smaller group sizes.

The data also revealed that 22% of consumers will buy restaurant food for at least part of their holiday meal. Restaurant desserts were the most popular purchase; 46% of respondents intend to order sweet endings. Entrees came in next at 41%, followed by sides at 38%.

Since restaurants in many locales are limited to off-premise service, consumers were asked about their preferred format. Curbside pickup topped the list for those ordering entire meals, with 38% going that route; 33% preferred carryout and 27%, delivery.

When it comes to purchasing single menu items or parts of the meal, 34% preferred carryout and 26% curbside pickup; delivery still came in third at 25% followed by drive-thru at 11%.





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