New Year's 2020 Restaurant Trends [Exclusive Data]

Here's how the New Year's Eve holiday impacted the restaurant industry this year.

Happy week after New Year’s! 

We hope you’re finally taking a breather after a hectic holiday season, whether that means a vacation, a staycation, closing the restaurant to give your whole staff a break, or reducing your hours for the slow season. 

This week is also a great time to look back on what worked and what didn’t this holiday season. If you’re curious to see how your restaurant stacked up during this year’s New Year’s period, check out our exclusive Toast data below. For this year's Christmas data, check out this post.

To Open or Not to Open?

It’s widely understood that New Year’s Eve is a huge opportunity for restaurants. Customers are in the mood to celebrate and drink, and ticketed dinners or bar events can bring in a ton of revenue. Guests are also likely to stick around for hours on end, and continue buying food and drinks well into the early hours of the morning. 

For this reason, 89% of restaurants stayed open on New Year’s Eve this year.

New Year’s Day, however, saw only 67% of restaurants staying open. The rest opted to give their staff a well-deserved day off after the madness of working New Year’s Eve. 

Sales Volume Soars on New Year’s Eve, and Slows on New Year’s Day

Those who did stay open on New Year’s Eve saw a 20% increase in sales volume as compared to the rest of December (excluding Christmas Eve and Day). Those who stayed open on New Year’s Day, though, saw a decrease: 24% lower sales volume than usual. It makes sense, as many people spend their New Year’s Day doing as little as possible. 

Ticket Size and Tip Size Increase Across the Board

Those who worked front of house during the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day shifts will have noticed bigger ticket sizes and better tips than usual. 

Tickets were 16.76% larger on New Year’s Eve, and 10.67% larger on New Year’s Day, as compared to the December average (excluding Christmas Eve and Day), which bodes very well for your business as you prepare to enter the slow season. 

Your servers will have also noticed that working the holiday might be tough, but it works out in their favor financially. Guests are especially generous with their tips this time of year, and they tend to empathize with servers who are spending the holiday at work instead of with family and friends. As a result, tips were 21.8% higher than usual on New Year’s Eve, and 7.75% higher than usual on New Year’s Day

The average tip on New Year’s Eve was 23.9%, and on New Year’s Day was 22.3%.

When Exactly Did Guests Choose to Dine Out?

Hour by hour, sales fluctuated significantly over the course of the New Year's Eve and New Year's Day period. New Year's Eve had a slower lunch service, but dinner was really busy, peaking at 8pm. But because of the overnight nature of the holiday, there's an extra little sales spike right around midnight, as you can see at the very beginning of the New Year's Day graph below — it's all your guests ringing in the new year with extra drinks and food. 

Year Over Year Growth

Both New Year’s Eve 2020 and New Year’s Day 2020 saw greater sales volume than in 2019. New Year’s Eve sales volume increased by 6.61% year over year, and New Year’s Day sales volume increased by 5.27%.  

Promote Your New Year's Events and Specials

If you're throwing a big New Year's party at your restaurant, get the word out as early as December 1st. As soon as Thanksgiving's over, people start seriously planning their holiday event lineup, and you want to be their first choice. Boqueria in New York City threw an all-night-long event with an open bar of selected drinks, plus passed and stationary tapas and a cava toast. They priced the ticket at $125 per person, plus tax and tip. They also maximized the restaurant's capacity by making it a standing-room-only event.

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In East Boston, MA, a bar called The Quiet Few did an amazing job with New Year's Day marketing: they threw a hangover cure event, complete with carby, cheesy food and very hangover-friendly (and employee-friendly) hours.

Make the Most of the Holidays

In the restaurant world, the holidays are all about harnessing the holiday spirit of your guests and ending the year with a bang. If you noticed that you made lots of extra revenue this holiday season, pay it forward: share some revenue with your employees as a bonus, contribute to a local charity or cause of your choice, or start planning about how you can use the extra boost to expand your business in 2020.

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