- Restaurant guest counts and sales increase 23% on Thanksgiving Eve, often referred to as "Drinksgiving," versus the previous Wednesday, according to research from point-of-sale company Upserve emailed to Restaurant Dive. The study, which gathered information from over 10,000 bars and restaurants, also reported a 25% increase in tickets compared to the previous Wednesday, and average turn time increased 3%.
- Beer is the highest performing menu item for bars on Thanksgiving Eve, with liquor and wine tied for No. 2.
- Restaurants also report a 20% increase in to-go orders that evening.
Upserve’s research shows the night has the potential to be as big as St. Patrick’s Day or Super Bowl Sunday for bars and restaurants that sell alcohol, and other reports back this up. Toast, another point-of-sale company, reports even higher results for the day, for example. In 2018, Toast restaurants saw a 33% increase in sales on Thanksgiving Eve compared to other Wednesdays. With most people off on Thanksgiving and no reason to be up early, the night before Thanksgiving has become a time for patrons to come together with others who may be in town, according to Upserve.
Other establishments are higher yet. A bar called Hugh O'Neill's, located in a Boston suburb, reports a 400% jump in sales on Thanksgiving Eve versus an average Wednesday.
Research from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States notes that one quarter of distilled spirits' $49 billion annual profits are generated during the holiday season, which kicks off on Thanksgiving Eve.
To meet this staggering demand, it's important for restaurants and bars to ensure they have the proper staffing in place to facilitate added sales. This adequate staffing should extend beyond the bar. Food sales also tend to increase on Thanksgiving Eve, according to Upserve, though not nearly as high as alcohol sales. It's also important for restaurants and bars to stock up on inventory and incentivize their staff, perhaps by throwing a party for them.
Offering flexible scheduling is also important. A new study shows that most Americans looking for temporary work during the holidays are seeking flexibility more than other perks, including discounted merchandise.
Alcohol yields generous profit margins for restaurants. Liquor typically generates 80% to 85% profit margins, while draft beer is around 80%, bottled beer is about 75% and wine is between 60% and 70%. By comparison, full-service restaurants had average profit margins of 6.1% in 2017. Regardless of the alcohol sales mix from Thanksgiving Eve, Upserve reports that sales from the night equate to over $5 million more than the previous Wednesday, so execution of staffing, inventory and operations should be a priority.