Operations

How consumers will use foodservice this holiday season

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

With the recent spike in COVID-19 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.

A recent survey conducted by Technomic, FoodService Director’s 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 an eatery.

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 a restaurant meal. 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 eateries 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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