What Bars & Restaurants Should Expect This Holiday Season

The remaining months of the year, often cited as O-N-D, are an exciting and busy time of year. We've taken a look at some recent reports on what will be trending this season.

Halloween Scares Up Sales in the On-Premise

Halloween kicks off the three-month spree of holidays, and it promises to bring in traffic—both dine-in and takeout—at bars and restaurants.

According to data from guest-led ordering platform Union, the 10 biggest sales Saturdays of last year happened in O-N-D, with the Saturday before Halloween being the biggest of all for alcohol sales at Union bars and restaurants in 2022. What’s more, the Saturday after Halloween was the fourth highest selling day — even higher than New Year’s Eve that year. The month of October was only a few percentage points behind December for the highest share of spirits sales over the three months.

holiday spirits sales
(Graph courtesy of Union)

Lightspeed Commerce Inc., a point-of-sale and e-commerce software provider, also took a look at last year's Halloween data to predict this year's trends. Bars open last October 31 saw a 15% increase in total sales and a 26% increase in total number of tickets, suggesting a busy Halloween Tuesday this year. 

"If last year’s numbers are any indication, restaurant and bar managers who are open for business on Tuesday nights should make sure they’re properly staffed on October 31," says Peter Dougherty, general manager of Hospitality at Lightspeed Commerce, in a press release. "What's especially interesting for bars is how much of the ticket increase is driven by spirits and cocktails, with beer sales only rising slightly, when we've seen off-premise sales primarily driven by beer."

Many bars/restaurants are already prepping for the holiday rush with special menus, increased staff, and maybe even costumes for employees! “We are ready for it,” said Rohit Sharma, general manager and operations partner at Bar 404, a speakeasy in downtown Toronto, in a press release. “There will be a lot of guests coming at the same time, [and we] want to make sure we have more hosts to accommodate [everyone].”

Just be sure your bar/restaurant keeps the spirits coming—and not just the ghostly kind! According to Lightspeed, shots and mixed drinks lead orders in bars across North America as spirit sales grew by 68% and cocktail sales saw a 34% increase on Halloween night 2022 compared to the prior week. 

Takeout orders are also expected to surge on Halloween night as those staying home to tend to trick-or-treaters order in. According to the Lightspeed, when Halloween is on a weekday, takeout see especially big jumps, with restaurants across all categories last year seeing an 11.37% increase in takeout sales compared to the previous Monday.  



November is the start of more home-based holiday celebrations with family, which can mark a decrease in sales for bars/restaurants. However, the month also brings the arrival of one of the biggest days of the year for the on-premise—the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. 

According to data from Union, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was still the biggest Wednesday of the entire year at high-volume venues last year, in part because many people have the day off, and some younger drinking-age consumers participate in “Drinksgiving,” a bar-focused gathering of friends the night before the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Maximizing November sales can also come down to what your establishment focuses on. While spirits sales may dip, Union data has found that beer sales hit their highest point in the quarter in November. Consider making your beer menu a big push in November.



The merriest month of the year can spell big sales for your bar/restaurant, especially when it comes to private parties. If you host private parties, make sure you are advertising your services now so that you are top-of-mind for those looking to make holiday reservations in the coming weeks.

Aside from private parties, plan for your biggest sales to come earlier in the month, as many people choose to celebrate at home as the month wears on due to the end-of-December holidays. According to Union, the second Saturday in December was the second biggest sales day of the year in 2022, with sales also notably high on the Friday of the same weekend. The first Saturday in December was the year’s third biggest sales day.

Consider capitalizing on this increased traffic by offering holiday-themed menus and special offers. Make sure spirits are on the menu as this category finds a big share of sales in December.

december on-premise sales
(Graph courtesy of Union)

What's on the Menu in October, November, and December

As you plan your holiday menus, be sure to take advantage of the biggest trends and most in-demand products during this time of the year.

It's clear that spirits are a big player in all three end-of-the-year months (and even year round as recent SipSource data from WSWA revealed a 5.2% growth rate for spirits in the on-premise), but some cocktails are in higher demand than others during this period. According to Union data from the last two years, the top three cocktails are the on-premise favorite margarita, the old fashioned, and the espresso martini. "Get ready to shake espresso martinis this fall,” said Layne Cox, Union’s chief marketing officer, in a press release. "Guests still can’t get enough of them.” 

And although wine has been in decline for some time, it's the season for this category to shine in the on-premise. 

“We were surprised to see how high the average price of wine orders jumps on the end-of-year celebratory holidays,” said Cox, in a press release. "While average order prices for beer and spirits don’t rise much during the holidays, according to Union data, the price of an average wine drink spikes to nearly double — to $20 per drink on Christmas Eve and $19 on New Year’s Eve. 

“Guests are eager to celebrate on those nights, and they’ll pay a premium to do so. These are key days for bars and restaurants to cash in on their wine inventory, especially on pricier brands that sell well in the holiday season,” she adds.

If you're offering dining or parties on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, definitely consider highlighting your sparkling wine offerings specificially. According to Union, sparkling wine marks about 22% of sales on Christmas Eve and over 50% of sales on New Year’s Eve.


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