Industry News | November 15, 2011

Get Ready for Thanksgiving, Big Business is On Its Way

Bookmark/Share this post with:
Email this story Email this story
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Read More About

The National Restaurant Association estimates that 14 million Americans will visit a restaurant for a Thanksgiving meal this year, and an additional 16 million will use restaurant takeout to supplement a meal at their own or someone else’s home. In addition, 32 million Americans are expected to dine out while shopping on Black Friday, according to new research by the Association. The new research also shows that convenience is the primary reason for making restaurants part of Thanksgiving celebrations.

“In today’s activity-rich, time-poor society, restaurants play an important role in bringing friends and family together to share a holiday meal for Thanksgiving,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “Our research clearly shows that the convenience of restaurant meals—not having to shop, cook, and clean up—drives consumer behavior and will lead millions of Americans to patronize restaurants this Thanksgiving.

“In addition, 20 percent of adults say they plan to go shopping on Black Friday, November 25, and of those, nearly seven out of 10 plan to visit a restaurant while on their shopping trip,” Riehle says. “Savvy diners can also do some holiday shopping while enjoying their restaurant meal by purchasing restaurant gift cards. Our research also shows that restaurant gift certificates top the list of gifts consumers want to receive on special occasions.”

When asked about the top reason for using restaurant services this Thanksgiving, 63 percent of consumers said that the convenience of using restaurant-prepared takeout items for all or part of their Thanksgiving meal allows for more time with family and friends. Thirty-one percent said they plan to dine in a restaurant for a Thanksgiving meal because they prefer to not cook a big meal and deal with the cleanup that goes along with it.

In addition to convenience, consumers who plan to dine out for a Thanksgiving meal this year say they will do so because they are traveling and don’t have the ability to cook (22 percent), they prefer to go to restaurants on special occasions (15 percent), somebody else is hosting and they prefer to dine out (15 percent), and they don’t have enough space to host a Thanksgiving event (12 percent).

For those planning to order full or partial Thanksgiving meals for takeout, those who didn’t cite convenience as the main reason said they will turn to restaurants because they aren’t good cooks (15 percent), they don’t have time to prepare food (10 percent), and the taste and quality of restaurant food is better (3 percent).

Overall, 55 percent of American adults say they plan to eat a meal at their own home this Thanksgiving, 46 percent say they plan to eat a meal at someone else’s home, 6 percent plan to dine at a restaurant, and 3 percent don’t plan to have a special meal. One in 10 plans to have more than one Thanksgiving meal this year.

The National Restaurant Association surveyed 1,011 American adults on November 10-14 about their dining plans for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Projections for the number of Americans who will visit restaurants or order takeout are based on economic analysis and research conducted over the last two decades by the National Restaurant Association.