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How Thanksgiving Data Prepares Your Bar for Drinksgiving

How Thanksgiving Data Prepares Your Bar for Drinksgiving

Drinksgiving. Drunksgiving. Blackout Wednesday. Thanksgiving Eve. Whatever you call it, the night before the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States has become a time for celebration. And Thanksgiving drinking.

With college students and hometown heroes back in town for Thanksgiving, people of all ages flock to their local watering hole for a drink.

We crunched the numbers from thousands of businesses across North America powered by Lightspeed Restaurant. We checked data from bars as well as fast-casual, casual, upscale and fine dining restaurants. We compared liquor sales and food sales on Thanksgiving Thursday with an average Thursday. We also compared sales made on Drinksgiving Wednesday to those from an ordinary Wednesday in November. 

Here’s what we found.

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Thanksgiving Eve drinking statistics

The night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest nights of the year for bars. It rivals even St Patrick’s Day. Last year, liquor orders grew by 156% compared to the previous Wednesday.

What were the most popular drinks?

Beer sales went up by 85%, cocktail orders surged by 69% and wine saw a small bump at 6%. 

The eternal crowd pleaser? Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! 

Are people feeling the need for a little liquid courage before they spend time with extended family? Maybe. We took a closer look at alcohol on Thanksgiving Eve.

Rum is the liquor that sells the most, with a 192% spike in popularity. Vodka is always a solid performer, as its sales increased by 187%. And tequila—a bold choice—rounds out the top three with a 179% boost. 

Which region parties the most on Drinksgiving?

Nothing mid about the Midwest: it loves tequila the most. There, sales of tequila increased by 864%, compared to 246% on the West Coast. 

The Northeast and the South may disagree on a lot of things. Still, they’re united in their love of vodka (+427% and +139% respectively). 

Data about Thanksgiving hangovers remains hard to find. 

Drinksgiving food trends

Nobody wants to cook on the night before Thanksgiving

Who has the time? Everyone is too busy wiping down their baseboards. Take out orders increased by 21% on Thanksgiving Eve compared to the previous Wednesday, with a 16% bump for dine-in orders. 

If you’re feeling fancy…

For those looking to recreate an elevated dining experience at home, ready-made restaurant meals are everywhere. Alinea, a three-star Michelin restaurant in Chicago, offers an order-ahead feast that amateur chefs can make at home. 

Load up those bread baskets

You can forget about setting up a salad bar, as soup and salad sales wilt by 6% and 4% on the night before Thanksgiving. Pizza, bread and desserts get all the love, with a 42%, 38% and 38% increase in sales, respectively.

Opening on Thanksgiving Day can be good for business

While few restaurants stay open for Thanksgiving, those who do have a busy day. 

Restaurants that opened on the holiday saw a 36% increase in the number of transactions and 109% increase in total sales. And sales trickled in steadily throughout the afternoon. 

The myth that patrons who eat in restaurants on Thanksgiving  are less than generous seems to be just that: a myth.  Dine-in tip percentages for restaurants that stay open on Thanksgiving hold steady at around 18%.

Five Thanksgiving Eve restaurant marketing ideas

Beyond stocking up on rum, vodka and tequila, there are a few more ways to make this year’s pre-Thanksgiving celebrations the best yet. With these results in mind, here are a few marketing ideas to help you make the most of the holiday.

Plan a take-out promotion. With everyone’s ovens full of pies, Thanksgiving Eve is already huge for to-go food orders. Turn that into your advantage by offering interesting take-out deals.

Run a social media giveaway. Besides general advertising and brand awareness on social media platforms, running a giveaway can help customers engage with your brand. Offer a gift card that’s good for the night of Thanksgiving Eve or a BOGO drink ticket to customers that participate in the giveaway. 

Check out this article for more social media marketing tips for gaining customers and increasing sales.

Target college alumni groups. With lots of people heading home for the holiday, Thanksgiving Eve is huge for school reunions. Partnering with a local college’s alumni group has the potential to make your bar the go-to spot for those who attended their hometown college. Making this connection with local institutions and showing them that your bar is a good time will make them want to come back every year.

Offer discounts on appetizers. While your customers are enjoying your delicious cocktails, it’s important that they remember to eat—and it’s the key to a headache-free Thanksgiving. Offering appetizer discounts with the purchase of an adult beverage is a great way to keep your customers happy. And it helps if your state requires you to sell food with alcohol orders.

Offer a holiday discount on bottles, cans and growlers. If you’re a bar or brewery that offers to-go drinks, do a special BOGO offer for the holiday so your customers have something fun to wash down all that turkey.  

Three ways to prepare for Drinksgiving

Once you have your promotions planned and posted for Thanksgiving Eve, it’s time to focus on how to make the night go as smoothly as possible. Besides stocking up on inventory for the night and making sure your restaurant staff is ready for the rush of orders, there are a few more things to prepare for.

Stock up on plastic cups and to-go containers. Make sure you have enough to-go containers on hand for both food and beverages to meet the higher Thanksgiving Eve demand. While it may not be as pretty, it’s also a good idea to serve in-house drinks in plasticware at your bar to reduce the amount of work for your bar staff.

Schedule extra front of house staff for the night. Whether you think you’ll need bouncers or just an extra floor manager on staff, an extra person in the FOH to help maintain social distancing and ensure no one is being over-served will help the night run smoothly.

Make sure every guest has a designated driver. Although most people have rideshare apps like Uber or Lyft on their phones, it won’t hurt to have a backup plan for those who are too drunk to get behind the wheel. Help to reduce drunk driving by checking with rideshares to see if they have a custom discount code that you can display in your bar.

Looking for an integrated POS and payments system to help get you through the busy holiday season? Chat with one of our experts to learn more about how Lightspeed can help.

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