CHICAGO — Restaurant and retail operators are poised to take advantage of an uptick in catering-related business for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. But substantial off-premise catering opportunities may begin before a holiday, according to a recent Technomic study of the consumer catering market.

Many consumers say they often rely on party platters or catered foods for consumption on the day before a major holiday.

"Consumers generally entertain at home during the holiday season, but many tell us that they are busy prepping for the big day and don’t want to worry about preparing meals for family and houseguests the day before. Nor do they want to cook for a large gathering two days in a row," said Melissa Wilson, principal of Technomic. "Party platters and prepared meals are appealing time-saving alternatives to cooking, providing important catering opportunities for restaurants and retail operators."

Other findings include:

  • Thirty-three percent of consumers indicate for the holidays, they are more likely to want purchased food to look like they made it themselves;
  • Among consumers who reported buying prepared foods for various holidays, the most popular occasions are Christmas (66%) and Thanksgiving (61%), followed by Fourth of July (53%);
  • About the same number of consumer respondents plan to purchase prepared meals for New Year's Eve (47%) as New Year's Day (48%); and
  • Thirty-six percent of consumers indicate they plan on entertaining at home more often over the next year, whereas 51% say they will entertain at home about the same.