Consumers ready to treat and plan this Christmas

Three in four consumers plan to visit pubs, bars and restaurants this Christmas after missing out on festive occasions in 2020.

CGA’s new ‘Christmas Report’ features extensive insights into people’s views about eating and drinking out to help operators and suppliers understand likely Christmas dynamics. It has plenty of encouraging signs for the sector, with two thirds of consumers saying they feel optimistic for a ‘normal’ Christmas, and one in three planning to celebrate twice as much so they can make up for lost time.


As COVID-19 restrictions ease and the vaccine programme continues, confidence should rise even higher over the second half of 2021. After being largely separated for the 2020 festive period, many consumers will be ready to celebrate with friends and family in the hospitality sector this year—including on Christmas Day, when just under a quarter (22%) plan to head out to eat or drink.


With many venues likely to be busy, there could be high demand for reservations this Christmas, and two in five consumers already expect to book for more of their visits than previously. Planning could well start earlier than usual, and nearly a quarter (22%) are already making arrangements or planning to do so within the next month, while another fifth (20%) intend to start in September and October. It highlights the need to optimise booking platforms and processes in good time to take advantage of opportunities this year.


CGA’s ‘Christmas Report’ also indicates that On Premise visits are likely to peak on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and points to some major potential to upsell. Three in five consumers are looking to treat themselves this year, while nearly half (48%) plan to trade up their drinks in December—16 percentage points more than the number who did so over Christmas 2019. However, CGA research has shown a polarisation in spending in the wake of COVID-19’s financial impacts, so operators and suppliers will also need to work together to appeal to people focused on value.


After a low key Christmas in 2020, we could be set for a bumper festive season this year,” says Rachel Weller, CGA’s director of consumer research and marketing. “But consumers’ behaviour may well look very different to pre-COVID-19 Christmases, and helping people plan their celebrations is going to be more important than ever. Staying right on top of their concerns and preferences is going to be key to thriving in what will be a very competitive market.”


CGA’s ‘Christmas Report’ is based on in-depth research into the habits, preferences and plans of 1,000 nationally representative On Premise users in Britain. To learn more about the report and bespoke research and analysis for suppliers and operators, please contact Rachel Weller at

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