Do they know it's Christmas?
For a hospitality journalist, there were many things missed during lockdown. Travelling the country to talk to operators; visiting venues far and wide; being invited to experience those brand new sites that haven’t even opened yet… the list goes on.
As we approach the Christmas period, I’m reminded of another chasm in the diary dates of the past six months… the wholesaler Christmas range launches. Sometime around June, trade press are invited to a central London location to sample the various festive treats destined for on-trade venues around the UK when December arrives – it’s an occasion that leaves you fat, full and sweaty, as you digest a whole Christmas meal in the midst of the summer heat. It’s bizarre, but, you know, it’s tradition.
With no Christmas briefings taking place in the summer gone by, we missed the period that usually kickstarts predictions around trends and consumption patterns for those pub goers looking to splash the seasonal cash in your venues. But who’s to say any of those predictions would be accurate this year? I mean, is there even any point in second guessing what guests are going to do/be allowed to do during the Christmas holidays? Well, yes, we think there is.
In a bid to plot the path of pub goers this Christmas, we’ve teamed up with our research partners Savanta to bring Pub & Bar readers The Festive Report, which starts on page 22
. Crucially, we spoke with 1,000 people who have visited the on-trade since lockdown ended, allowing the research to not only showcase their perceptions on the Christmas period, but also indicate how consumers are feeling about visiting venues in general while Covid-19 is still a part of their lives. The report actually makes for encouraging reading and should allow operators to at least partially plan for next month.
While we know that large group bookings are likely to be unachievable, it’s also worth considering the thoughts of our lead interviewee
when preparing for festive reservations (page 18). Peter Borg-Neal, founder and chairman of Oakman Inns, believes that the pre-booked visits of groups of fours, sixes and eights will allow his business to manage large numbers in a far calmer way than raucous office parties allow. Let’s keep focusing on those silver linings.
Tristan O’Hana - Editor