Drinksgiving to Drive Major Sales for Bars and Restaurants

Lightspeed Commerce Inc. has published a new report showing that Thanksgiving Eve, better known as Drinksgiving, is promising big business for U.S. bars and restaurants.

The data is based on a sample of thousands of restaurants and bars powered by Lightspeed across the U.S., including bars as well as fast-casual, casual, upscale, and fine dining restaurants. The analysis compared various sales trends and menu items’ popularity between Wednesday, November 23, 2022 and the Wednesday in the previous week.

The data shows that Drinksgiving 2023 should once again be one of the biggest nights of the year for bars and restaurants!

What Guests Are Drinking on Drinksgiving

Last year on Drinksgiving, liquor orders grew by 156% compared to the previous Wednesday, with cocktail orders surging by 69%.

Rum is the liquor that sells the most, with a 192% spike in popularity. Close behind is vodka with an increase in sales of 187%. And tequila rounds out the top three with a 179% boost. 

drinksgiving trends drinksgiving sales
Graph courtesy of Lightspeed Commerce Inc.

Rum may be the top spirit, but it's a battle between tequila and vodka if you're considering sales regionally. The Midwest leads the pack with sales of tequila increasing by 864% compared to 246% on the West Coast. While in the Northeast, vodka is king with a +427% increase in sales on Thanksgiving Eve compared to 139% in the South.

drinksgiving trends drinksgiving sales
Chart courtesy of Lightspeed Commerce Inc.

Aside from spirits, beer sales went up by 85% last Drinksgiving, and wine saw a small bump at 6%.

What Guests are Eating on Drinksgiving

Drinksgiving isn't just about what's in your glass—it's also about what's on your plate. 

And that plate may or may not be on a table in your venue. According to Lightspeed’s Advanced Insights data, the number of takeout orders increased by 21% on Thanksgiving Eve compared to the previous Wednesday, with a 16% increase for dine-in orders.

Whether dining in or out, carbs rule on Thanksgiving Eve as soup and salad sales wilt by 6% and 4%, respectively. Pizza, bread, and desserts all see a 42%, 38%, and 38% rise in sales, respectively.

Thanksgiving Day in Bars and Restaurants 

Those bars and restaurants that will be open on Thanksgiving Day could also see big business. Lightspeed's data reveals that restaurants who were open on the holiday saw a 36% increase in the number of transactions and 109% increase in total sales compared to the previous Thursday. Dine-in tip percentages for restaurants that stay open on Thanksgiving hold steady at around 18%.

The data also debunks the industry myth that patrons who dine out on Thanksgiving Day are bad tippers. “This echoes what we’ve seen in the industry overall—that people are tipping their waitstaff more than in previous years,” says Peter Dougherty, General Manager of Hospitality at Lightspeed Commerce. “Added to the relative increase in sales, Thanksgiving could prove to be a profitable day for both servers and restaurants.”

Still, Dougherty warns that staying open on the holiday “might not be the best for staff morale. And as we head into December, hospitality businesses will need all hands on deck to handle the holiday rush—especially on Saturday, December 9, which based on last year’s numbers could be the biggest sales night after New Year’s.”


Are you registered for our Crave and Crave on the Menu newsletters? Sign up today!

Plan to Attend or Participate in the 2024 Bar & Restaurant Expo, March 18-20, 2024

To learn about the latest trends, issues and hot topics, and to experience and taste the best products within the bar, restaurant and hospitality industry, plan to attend Bar & Restaurant Expo 2024 in Las Vegas. Early bird registration is now open!

To book your sponsorship or exhibit space at the 2024 Bar & Restaurant Expo, contact:

Veronica Gonnello ​(for companies A to G)​ e: [email protected]​ p: 212-895-8244

​Tim Schultz​ (for companies H to Q) ​e: [email protected]​ p: 917-258-8589

Fadi Alsayegh ​(for companies R to Z)​ e: [email protected] p: 917-258-5174​

Also, be sure to follow Bar & Restaurant on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest industry news and trends.