by Britta Ashu

A Covid Christmas: consumer insights to help you plan for 2020

A Covid Christmas: consumer insights to help you plan for 2020

When lockdown started in March, I didn’t expect, for one minute, to hold off making Christmas plans because of the same virus that stopped Easter plans.

It seems I’m speaking on behalf of everyone.

On the back of some research carried out in August, so many of us are feeling the same way. Boris filled us with hope suggesting that there could be a return to normality ‘possibly in time for Christmas’ but it’s not looking that way. A total of 57% of those who shared their views on their festive season preparations stated they had not yet started planning for Christmas. When asked about New Year’s Eve, close to an astounding three quarter (72%) of us had not given the biggest celebration of the year any thought at all.

It may seem early to focus on an event that is months away but it’s often the day that takes the most conversation and arranging – other than a wedding. Families, extended families and friends often want to have secured some outline of a plan, to have started collating Christmas lists of food and presents, and earmarked tickets for a variety of festive events. But not this year. Understandably, 30% agreed that they are leaving their planning later than they usually do; there are too many unknowns in terms of national or regions lockdowns, visiting or dining out restrictions, plus furlough and finances. See below some of the comments we had from our survey:

“This year we won’t know what the ‘rules’ concerning visitors will beit won’t be possible to start preparations until nearer the time

I am waiting to see what is happening – we may not be able/want to go to other people’s houses to celebrate. Money may also be a factor”

“Because I have been put on furlough and I am struggling to find a job, in order to start planning Christmas and new year I need the money to do so

The good news is that there will be a Christmas celebration of some sort.  Whilst the ‘who’ and ‘where’ of how we spend Christmas are unknown, it’s apparent that we know the menu!

Overwhelmingly, most are looking forward to a traditional Christmas dinner, with all the trimmings. There’s no room for complication this year. Christmas is the ‘constant’ in our calendars; the date doesn’t change and neither do expectations for the day. Most of those we spoke to are looking forward to a traditional turkey, with pigs in blankets, accompanied by the conventional range of potatoes and vegetables.  Christmas pudding, mince pies, or a slice of Christmas cake – made, by some, during lockdown – are expected to follow. All washed down with a choice of fizz, wine and/or craft beer. If government guidance allows eating and drinking out of home, 26% are hoping to see the traditional three course Christmas dishes available on menus, with menu offers adapted to accommodate smaller budgets (24%) or offer meal deals (22%).

That said, with restrictions and curfews in place in the run up to Christmas, the belief is that eating out opportunities won’t be as abundant as years gone by.  Either that, or the rise in cases and reducing confidence in venturing out will mean ‘home is where the heart is’ for a large number this season.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to enjoy restaurant quality food and drink at home. When asked, many seemed quite tempted by festive hampers, seasonally-themed take-outs and deliveries, and even meal/cocktail kits for home creation.

So, if we can turn our gazes away from sanitiser, staff coated in PPE and social-distancing stickers, to enjoy the first sightings of Christmas gifts, Advent calendars and festive food, there’s still plenty of time to stimulate the Christmas spirit.

We’re here to help you take advantage of the festive season, as best you can. Our Christmas campaign this year is all about helping you deliver Christmas and we have even pulled together 12 tips for Christmas done differently in hospitality. We know how difficult it has been this year, and it won’t be the Christmas or New Year we expected, but the time of year will signify the closing – we hope – of the biggest chapter of Covid.



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