Home Business News A quarter of households scaling back their Christmas meal

A quarter of households scaling back their Christmas meal

by LLB Finance Reporter
21st Dec 23 5:59 am

Research released today has found that a quarter (25%) of UK adults will be scaling back their Christmas meal this year due to the current financial pressures, with 12% (up to 19% of those aged 25-34) offering fewer dishes than usual.

Around one in ten (9%) plan to provide smaller servings instead, rising to 22% of young adults (aged 18-24). In fact, one in seven households (14%) now expect their Christmas guests to contribute to the cost of the celebrations, with 5% starting to do so this year because of the cost-of-living pressures.

The survey into changing Christmas traditions among 2,000 UK adults was carried out by Researchbods, part of global strategic insight and customer analytics group STRAT7.

Xmas day gets less traditional

The study also revealed that around one in five (18%) UK adults don’t take a purely traditional approach to the British Christmas dinner, and instead choose to incorporate international cuisines, such as Indian or Chinese food, into their meal. It found that 12% serve just one or two dishes that are non-traditional, but 6% take an alternative approach to the entire dinner.

In addition, 18% of those who have dietary preferences or requirements – for instance vegetarians, vegans, or those with a food intolerance – prefer to bring their own dishes to Christmas dinner. This rises to 25% of those aged 18-24 and 28% of 25-34s. However, only 3% of all adults eat out and 2% get a takeaway, showing the big home-cooked meal remains a must-have Christmas tradition for the majority of the UK.

Sobering thoughts

18% of all adults think their Christmas experience would be better if their family and guests drank less alcohol. Younger people are the most likely to feel this way – 28% of 18-24s and 26% of 25-34s.

Many are reducing their alcohol intake for pragmatic reasons though: 19% of adults are planning to drink less because of the cost of living – this rises to a quarter of those aged 18-24 and 35-44 (both 26%). While among those who are still planning to have a holiday tipple, wine remains the Christmas Day drink of choice (with 39% of all adults partaking).

This is followed by beer (21%), champagne and sparkling wine (20%) and traditional festive mainstay Bailey’s Irish Cream (16%, rising to 20% among those aged 45-54 – also 20% of women will have some on Christmas vs. only 11% of men). Meanwhile, one in five (20%) of those aged 18-24 say that (Instagram- and TikTok-friendly) cocktails are their preferred Christmas drink – second only to wine among that age group.

Roasties and wine remain Christmas mainstays

Roast potatoes are the UK’s Christmas dish of choice. They feature in 81% of the Christmas dinners made in this country, well ahead of other holiday staples like stuffing (69%), turkey (67%), Brussels sprouts (67%), carrots (67%) and pigs in blankets (65%).

Yorkshire puddings make it to the Christmas table in half of households (51%), with more than a third (39%) serving broccoli and 38% serving peas. Nearly a quarter (23%) offer cauliflower cheese.

On the dessert side, traditional dishes are less well represented: less than half of households (40%) serve Christmas pudding and only 34% offer mince pies.

Insights from STRAT7 Researchbods

Frances Revel-Cooper, head of custom insight at STRAT7 Researchbods, said, “This research reveals that Christmas traditions are shifting and evolving, and food and drink brands are going to have to keep up. Notably, Indian and Chinese dishes, vegan options and the like are becoming increasingly commonplace.

“While around a third of those we surveyed view Christmas dinner as the hardest meal of the year, it’s still one most of us are reluctant to outsource. This means it remains a cornerstone of the year for the grocery sector.

“Despite the ongoing cost-of-living-crisis, there seems little risk of the traditional Christmas meal going away. However, it is representative of the changing cultural, social and economic make-up of the UK so retailers must also be prepared for it to evolve in the years to come.

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