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Getting Festive – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”
Will Ferrell, Elf


The wonderful time of the year is not that far away! The long hazy summer nights now seem a distant memory and the nights are drawing in.

According to figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, both pub and restaurant operators saw positive sales growth during the festive season in 2018, with pubs enjoying the biggest uplift with collective like-for-likes ahead 5.1% against a 2.4% increase for restaurants.  “This was all in stark contrast to the gloom hanging over retail, which according to the British Retail Consortium suffered its worst Christmas for a decade with zero sales growth,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.

“What these Tracker figures suggest is that consumers are being more selective about where they spend their money, and are looking for memorable experiences – like going out for a meal or drink with family or friends over Christmas – rather than just buying ‘things’,” added Chessell.

CLH News previously included a report into consumer booking behaviour for the festive season, which revealed that when deciding on a venue, consumers will prioritise three key factors; whether they are able to preview the menu in advance of booking (64%); how well the venue caters for their desired capacity (49%) and how prepared they are for those with food allergies (39%).

It’s all in the planning

With customer expectations increasing considerably in recent years and businesses finding themselves in the court of public opinion, thanks to review sites, be under no illusions that your customers will be demanding the very best you have to offer. The good news is the festive period is always a great chance to impress customers who may never have visted your premises before, providing a great opportunity to entice them back in the New Year.

Creating an attractive Image for your business.

  • Christmas isn’t all about one day – keep your customers up to date. Making sure you have seasonal blackboards posters menus displayed and available to take away is an important way of getting information to your customers. You could also include a Christmas calendar highlighting special events, entertainment and opening times. Aside from this traditional method of informing your customers social media is also a fantastic way to connect, and you can provide up-to-date information almost instantly.
  • Look festive – whether you are a pub restaurant or hotel looking the part as a priority! Once again that tried and trusted saying you never get a second chance to make a first impression so whether you are decking the halls or opting for a more subtle and simple touch make sure you look festive. According to Stephen Evans managing director of Christmas Tree World 59 per cent of consumers surveyed would spend £21 more on average per head if the venue had impressive Christmas decorations and displays, with 45 percent also citing decorations as the second-most important part of their Christmas visit experience, after food.
  • Menus and promotions – while people still love traditional even diehards-hards” change occasionally, and the days of menus offering “the festive bird all the trimmings” are over people expect choice creativity and innovation and more importantly meat free and allergy aware options. Not offering options to suit various tastes run the risk of losing an entire party not just one person, and a successful Christmas menu will offer traditional perhaps with a twist a couple of alternatives and a creative vegetarian and vegan option.


As the pop­ularity of vegetarian and plant-based foods grows particularly among the millennial’s diners are now avoiding restaurants and pubs who do not provide vegetarian/vegan options. The good news is gross profit margins are typically greater and vegetarian dishes than on meat dishes which can make an even more profitable Christmas. The millennial age group are the most vocal about the need for vegetarian options.
By offering alternatives to Turkey Christmas dinner can be as varied as your imagination says the Vegetarian Society. A recent report revealed that one-third of UK adults had reduced or stopped their meat consumption.

Lynne Elliot, Chief Executive at the Vegetarian Society, said: “This demonstrates the growing interest we’ve seen in plant-based food. By working closely with food companies and restaurants we’ve helped to bring about the tipping point we are now seeing. There has been a seismic shift in attitude. This has led to a huge jump in interest from dedicated vegetarian and vegan menus across chain restaurants to the vegan week on the Great British Bake Off.

Ghost of Christmas Future

How will Christmas in the future be? DNA-optimised dishes, holographic guests and collaborative community celebrations out-of-home are all on the menu for Christmas Day 2030, according to a new festive trends report commissioned by Bidfood, one of the UK’s leading foodservice providers.

In partnership with Food Futurologist, Dr Morgaine Gaye, Bidfood shared its predictions for Christmas Day dining ten years from now.

Microchips on Menus OOH

Personalisation is on the rise as we move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to dining, and in the future festive food will be no exception, microchips and skin-embedded sensor devices will enable operators to take into consideration genetic health and microbiome unique to their customers’ nutritional needs.

A virtual party

Experiential Christmas Day celebrations are likely to grow in popularity thanks to advanced technology. LED wallpaper displays will allow consumers, at the push of a button, to change the theme of room to suit the vibe, whilst celebration dishes will also bring a sense of theatre through sensorial stimuli, with textured cutlery and edible glasses.

A connected Christmas

Christmas will morph into an inclusive community event as we seek to deepen the social ties with those around us. Festive feasting will be a collaborative affair, with customers contributing to shared OOH meals by bringing along a few locally grown ingredients and produce for chefs to use, much of which is likely to have been grown in community hubs and co-operative spaces or foraged for.

Festive tipples – out of sight, but not out of mind

The heavy consumption of alcohol is unlikely to have the same allure that we see now. Instead, alcoholic drinks will deliver mood and health enhancement, with the continued popularity of botanicals and fermented beverages. Alcohol will however, play more of a frivolous role in puddings, with dessert courses crafted to surprise and delight.

Reflecting on the insights, Lucy Pedrick, Senior Insights Manager at Bidfood, said: “This year we’ve not only looked at what current food trends are driving consumer demand, but we’ve also taken a deep dive into the history books to look at what influences remain from the past, as well as worked with Food Futurologist, Dr Morgaine, to understand what will be driving food and drink innovation and trends in the future.”