The New Normal for Holiday Meals
By Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire
The law of unintended consequences
is one that just keeps on giving. We have discussed multigenerational households
in this forum and the implications of young people not flying the nest or,
conversely, setting up home on their own, increasing the number of 21st century
What we have not covered are the implications of
extended family households created when parents separate and set up home with
new families, possibly having more children and certainly having more in-laws
to invite for holiday meals. Geography, as well as demography, plays a part
with family members living much further than the proverbial stone’s throw
from one another.
All these factors are contributing to families’ multiple
Christmas celebrations. The
Daily Telegraph has reported on a trend spotted by two of England’s
most popular supermarkets — Asda and Waitrose.
After polling 3,000 customers,
Asda apparently found that 53 percent cook two Christmas meals while 32 percent
have to sit through more than three. As a result, 38 percent more frozen
turkeys have been sold this year, compared to the same time last year.
situation "is thought to have come about because the rising divorce
rate has led to more families living apart — meaning more homes to visit at
Christmas time in order to ‘keep the peace’."
Waitrose, while increasing
its offering of fresh birds over the coming weeks, "sold
56 percent more frozen turkeys last week (mid-November) compared to the same
week in 2009" as well as a significant "increase in sales of pre-prepared
vegetables and frozen desserts that are easier to serve."
The two stores’ turkey
buyers agree that it is a long-term trend with shoppers "buying
more than one turkey at Christmas … as they celebrate with their different
families," according to Asda. Waitrose’s buyer pointed out, "We
know that the weekend before Christmas is only rivalled by Christmas Day and
Boxing Day for festive entertaining. Many families cook up a full Christmas
dinner with all the trimmings for those that they won’t be spending Christmas
Discussion Questions: Do you see a bigger opportunity with American families
around multiple holiday meals? How can food retailers capitalize on these trends?
commentary] All this with a whole month before December 25. By the time receipts
are toted up post-holiday, many retailers may be giving thanks for all the
gifts consumers have given. Who knew there was a plus side to broken marriages?