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Getting ready for Christmas 2023

Xmas Blogs

With Christmas 2023 upon us, pubs, bars and restaurants up and down the country are preparing to welcome guests through their doors for the busy festive season. 

With rail strikes and poor weather putting a dampener on last year’s celebrations, anticipation for Christmas 2023 is high amongst UK customers, with many planning to enjoy their parties and reunions in much-loved hospitality venues. 

While the Christmas menus are finalised and the decorations are ready to be hung, we’ve pulled together some key insights from PROOF's On-Trade Christmas 2023 report to help venues get drinks-ready and boost their sales throughout the festivities. 

Treat-minded customers 

This year, despite a continued tightening of purse strings, Brits are looking to treat themselves during the festive period. 50% like to splash out at Christmas, with many already saving up to go big with their celebrations. 

Visits to the on-trade are still seen as important treat occasions by many, with 64% of customers being happy to pay extra for premium quality food and drink. PROOF predicts that quality of food and drink will be the top factor influencing venue choice this Christmas, ahead of low prices and promotions.  

Many drinkers have cut back on the number of times they go out or aren’t drinking as much as they did previously – either to keep an eye on their health or to save their money. But with treats top of mind for those going out over the Christmas season, venues can drive value by spotlighting their top shelf and premium products.  

Consider drawing the eye to those premium wines on your lists or driving margin on cocktails by making them with premium-quality spirits. Menu nudges and ensuring staff are trained in recommendations will be key to helping drive the choice to trade up amongst your customers.  

More visits to our favourite pubs and bars  

With visits to our favourite pubs and bars continuing to be considered important occasions, many customers are planning to increase their visits over the festive season.  PROOF research shows that 79% are planning to go out as often as last year, with 1 in 4 planning to go out more often.  

There may be a small loss of some infrequent visitors, particularly those over the age of 55. But those under the age of 35 are keen to ‘make up for lost time this Christmas, even more so than previous years.’  

UK venues can look forward to hosting some of the 92 million Brits who plan to be out this December – that's 1 million more adults than last year.  

Key Christmas trading dates  

While many get into the festive spirit earlier than December, many customers don’t kick off their official celebrations until the first week. From here, visits to the on-trade continue to increase in frequency during the last 4 weeks of the year, which is when many businesses can expect to see their biggest uplift in sales, as almost 10% of drinks value is generated during this time. 

This year, Christmas Day falls on a Monday – which should prove favourable to the on-trade, as revellers can celebrate their festivities for the whole weekend. Predictions show that 23 million adults plan to go out the Friday before Christmas, with 24 million planning to be out on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Meanwhile, 9 million will be out on Christmas Day, 23 million out on Boxing Day and 14 million out on New Years Day.  

How to win Christmas 2023 

While many venues are nearly ready to hit the ground running for the 2023 Christmas trading period, we’ve put together a few tips that may be helpful to help win sales and boost footfall this festive season.  

Advertise bookings early  

Ensure your digital bookings are live as soon as possible, and actively promote through your communication channels, social media and your staff. Consider deposits to deter no-shows – 75% of restaurants now require this. And perhaps get in touch with local businesses in your area, as many are planning to have a festive meal out as opposed to an office work party.  

Extend the festive season  

While the Rugby World Cup has come to an end, it has helped uplift sales in pubs and bars that showed the games – particularly for beer and cider sales. Consider running events through November to encourage more visits to your venue, with midweek food and drink offers or with quiz nights or fancy-dress parties. This could also be an option to boost footfall in January. 

Review your drinks range  

With treat-minded customers out to enjoy themselves, ensure you spotlight your premium spirits, wines and beers through the festive season. You might want to offer a drinks trade-up option with set menus – such as swapping a glass of bubbly for a cocktail at a reasonable price increase. Ensuring your staff are knowledgeable in your premium listings will be key to helping drive trade up.  

For support on tailoring your drinks list, helping train staff to be knowledgeable in what you serve, or for queries about the full range we have available here at Matthew Clark, get in touch with your Account Manager or find more information here: What We Do


About the author

Mary McCarron

Mary looks after the majority of Matthew Clark's digital marketing comms. After a couple of years working in tech, she found her way back to the hospitality industry and can now be found talking all things cocktails, spirits, beer, softs and more across our website, social media, and other digital channels.

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