‘Christmas dinner box’ now a reality in 2020’s COVID-Christmas

Amid the throes of COVID-Christmas, it seems consumers are unlikely to head out for their Christmas dinner this year – with 68%* of UK consumers noting they are eating out less frequently than before the pandemic in a survey by GlobalData. However, with supermarkets and foodservice outlets moving to bring restaurant-quality Christmas meals out to their customers, we now find ourselves ending this strange year with what would once have been an alien and futuristic concept, but is now a stark reality: the delivered Christmas dinner.

Ryan Whittaker, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Foodservice in the UK is in a troubling situation. Profit operators were projected to generate sales worth $104bn in 2020, but that number has fallen to under $71bn due to the impact of COVID-19 – that’s a shocking 32% drop. With Christmas only weeks away, the ‘Christmas dinner box’ taps in to the need for ‘convenience’ and ‘stress reduction’ during this afflicted holiday period and are likely to be met with acceptance”.

Chef Tommy Banks has prepared three boxes for the festive period – including a five-course meal with trimmings, pudding, mince pies and a bottle of wine – to be delivered prior to Christmas. Meanwhile, Tredwells restaurant and Elite Bistros have launched Christmas provisions and meal boxes at prices ranging from £45–100 per person.

Whittaker continues: “There are several reasons why consumers might opt for a Christmas dinner box – not least because 2020 has been so emotionally exhausting and because many of us are missing restaurants. Christmas is traditionally the time of year where offices, friends and family go out and have a special meal. Obviously, those plans have been put on hold by the pandemic. UK consumers are finding dining out increasingly unconvincing in the midst of the tier system, with rising COVID infections prompting lockdown and the closure of non-delivery foodservice.

“In this landscape, Christmas dinner boxes present foodservice operators with a small route back to the consumer.”

Other examples include UK supermarket Asda, which is selling a Christmas dinner box that notes it ‘serves eight people for less than £15’.

Whittaker adds: “Asda’s approach of selling all the relevant items in a bundle to serve eight people is a terrific promotion, given the economic concerns affecting large swathes of the population this year. According to GlobalData, 98%*3 of UK consumers are concerned about the economy, and over half (54%)* describe themselves as ‘extremely concerned’. Given the cost of COVID-19 and lockdowns, Asda’s approach is likely to appeal to a very significant proportion of consumers this Christmas.”

* COVID-19 recovery tracker consumer survey, 10 November 2020

*2 COVID-19 recovery tracker consumer survey, 10 November 2020, combining answers “I will eat this outside my home significantly less frequently than before” “I will eat this outside my home slightly less frequently than before” and “I will stop eating this outside my home”

*3 COVID-19 recovery tracker consumer survey, 10 November 2020, combining “Extremely concerned”, “Quite concerned”, and “Slightly concerned”

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