Reservations over the festive season are up by almost three fifths compared to last year but operators must balance value with margins when calculating the price of Christmas dinner as no-show rate increases.
Owner of the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Suffolk, Brendan Padfield told the Morning Advertiser the pub calculates the cost of its Christmas menu months in advance by estimating December prices and adding its standard mark up to ensure a “targeted gross margin”.
How much will you charge for Christmas dinner at your pub this year?
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In addition, Padfield explained pubs must balance “great value for money” for consumers with being “different from the pack” to make the most of the festive season.
The operator added inflation rates and food costs, despite having declined in recent weeks, had been “attritional” throughout 2023.
While the venue is closed on Christmas Day, the Unruly Pig offers a festive set menu, including oyster & caviar, game terrine, pigeon wellington and brandy panna cotta, costing £32.50 for three courses.
“Generally, the protein element on a plate is the most expensive ingredient. Great quality turkey doesn't come cheap, but we offer pigeon wellington as we like to offer something different yet still special.
“Most customers are going to eat a lot of turkey over the festive period, so having a differing festive main course seems to hit the spot for many”, Padfield said.
Earlier this month, pub giant JD Wetherspoons revealed it had increased the cost of its Christmas menu by 13% this year.
Recent data from Zonal revealed reservations across the sector were already more than 40% up on 2022 levels throughout the month of December, with bookings for Christmas Day up 59%.
However, the hospitality technology firm also estimated the number of consumers not turning up for their bookings had doubled in the last year, having crept up from 6% to 12%, costing the industry some £17.59bn a year.
Zonal chief sales and marketing officer Olivia FitzGerald said: “The increase in Christmas Day bookings is very welcome news for the industry and it’s great people are keen to spend time in their favourite venues to celebrate.”
Owner of the Dog at Wingham, Canterbury, Marc Bridgen also told the Morning Advertiser ingredients, teamed with staffing, were the biggest expenses over the festive season, but that “knowing your customer and pitching the right value proposition” were key.
This year, the Dog is offering a Christmas Day menu, featuring prawn cocktail tartlets, Turkey ballotine with duck fat roast potatoes and aged Christmas pudding, for £150 per person.
In addition, the pub’s festive party menu includes roast parsnip and vanilla soup, roast hake, and pear fragipan, and costs between £39.50 and £49.50 per person, available Monday 27th November to Saturday 23rd December 2023.
Bridgen said: “We treat it as an event and look to maximise the opportunity whilst delivering an exceptional meal and experience. We have decreased [our prices this year], times are tough for people.”