The best (and worst) days for restaurants in December
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The best (and worst) days for restaurants in December

Shopping on Oxford Street London, Christmas day

To make the most of December, you need to plan ahead. In terms of sales, it’s a month that brings the biggest highs and lows of the year, so it pays to be prepared. When do you have to be open, and maybe even extend your hours (if you can)? And when can you stay closed, and do some celebrating of your own? We have the answers.

It’s a fact – December is the busiest month of the year for UK restaurants!* It’s a fantastic opportunity to top your sales and end the year on a high.

Your first step in planning should be to look at the sales reports from last year. That should give you a good idea of how your business did in December, and when you might be extra busy this year.

To give you an overview, we’ve prepared a forecast based on last year’s sales trends for the same period in 2015. This year, Christmas spending looks set to increase even further, so don’t underestimate the demand.

With the generally slow month of January around the corner (our data reveals a 30-40% slowdown compared to December) make the most out of the Christmas weeks. But don’t despair, in February, sales will be back to average pace again.

Get ready for the Christmas rush

The first three weeks of December will be busier than any other time of the year – weekends in particular. Stock up on ingredients, and prepare to take on part-time workers to handle the onslaught. Perhaps you can even extend your opening hours. After the last weekend before Christmas, trade generally begins to slow down. But be prepared for a small rush Wednesday-Friday (December 21-23) before this year’s Christmas weekend.

The first three weeks of December will be busier than any other time of the year – weekends in particular.

Stronger sales on Sundays

Interestingly, we can see strong Sunday sales for the first two December weekends. And we bet that this year’s Sunday shoppers – hunting for VR glasses and noise cancelling headphones – will be every bit as keen on eating out as they were in 2015. However, the last Sunday before Christmas was comparatively slow last year.

But don’t forget…

The online searches for “restaurants open on Christmas Day” have steadily increased the over the past year. If you choose to leverage this growing trend, make sure to communicate it well before Christmas. Otherwise, customers will assume your business is going to be closed. It’s a good opportunity to stand out from your competition, as long as you and your staff don’t mind working on Christmas Day.

Key dates in December 2016

December 10-11th: Busiest weekend in December
December 21-23: Pre-Christmas rush
December 24th: Close and take time off to prepare an awesome Christmas supper at home (or buy your last Christmas gifts)
December 25th: Holiday – spend time with the family!
December 26th: Open up! Get ready to serve everyone who’s had enough of home-cooked Christmas food.
December 27th: Equal sales to Boxing Day
December 30th: Small peak before the New Year’s Eve weekend dip
December 31st: Celebrate the New Year and make new promises!

*The data is based on all Zettle merchants in the “food and drinks”-category consisting of restaurants, food stalls and food trucks.

Kevin Siemons is passionate about data and delivering valuable insights. Last Christmas Kevin initiated a ‘family hackathon’ tradition, where the family does data mining and processes to create a minimum viable product (MVP). Eating Christmas food thus automatically becomes second priority in the Siemons family.