Five weeks…that ever-shrinking amount of time you get to take advantage of this billion dollar shopping season. Shoppers run in a frenzy, all in hopes to hit the best sale with their holiday bonus in hand. However, retail is not the only place this chaos goes down.  There’s a reason why so many New Year’s resolutions are to hit the gym and lose weight… all of that glorious, fabulous, absolutely scrumptious holiday food and the extra pounds that come with it! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, sales at eating and drinking establishments surpassed $45 billion last November and approached $46 billion in December. Although pumpkin-flavored-everything is essential to today’s seasonal menus, it shouldn’t be credited for ALL the surge in foodservice sales. Let’s take a look at some key ingredients to the recipe for holiday success.

Black Friday isn’t just for retail.  This “crack-of-dawn” holiday trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Consumers will be racing for door busters and discounts before the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away. So what should YOU give them? More DISCOUNTS! Offer a special on Facebook, email coupons, or how about a free dessert for those calorie-burning shoppers? While in the “sale mode” of things, exhausted shoppers will look for a dining experience to save them money, leaving more cash for, you guessed it…more shopping! And let’s not forget the package-toting men…offer a Holiday Happy Hour while the women rip apart the sales rack. And don’t forget to cash in on Small Business Saturday too!

Small Plates, Small Bites. While most consumers can’t avoid gaining those few extra pounds over the holidays, it’s certainly not the gift they’re looking for from Ol’ Saint Nick. This is a great time to bring out a menu with “small bites.”  Smaller servings are a great option for those looking for a snack in-between meals, as well as for those hopeless calorie-counters. It also allows guests wanting to sample a few different things on the menu, the guilt-free pleasure of doing so. Let’s not forget that smaller portions and servings will also help cut costs and increase your gross profit!

Ok, pumpkin spice has a little to do with it. Consumers not only want seasonal flavors, they expect it! Serve up some holiday cheer in a different number of varieties. Adding ingredients such as pumpkin, ginger, sweet potato, squash and peppermint are great ways to spice up your menu and give diners that warm, holiday feeling they’ve been waiting for all year long. These ingredients can be incorporated into every meal. Sweet potato pancakes for breakfast, butternut squash soup at lunch or dinner, and how about chocolate cake with a peppermint buttercream frosting for dessert? Feel free to put your own special twist on these items as well. Mixing your signature taste with custom holiday flavors is a great way to keep traditional items interesting.

Is it over already? The panic has stopped, and you can finally breathe. Right? Not! Why not keep the momentum going? The holidays bring in a whirlwind of diners through your establishment. Now is the best time to promote specials and events to come while they’re still digging those last pine needles out of the carpet. Perhaps you have a special menu for the very fast approaching Valentine’s Day. Collect emails and send out special offers. Or, go old fashioned and stick a promotional voucher in their check presenter. There are a million ways to keep your guests interested, and to keep up the sales.

For more reasons than could be named, this truly is the most wonderful time of the year. It is the perfect time to promote your business, experiment with the menu, attract new customers, and give back! Be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities that come with such a busy season! For more marketing and new product ideas, be sure to contact your Jake’s representative.

Christmas blessings to you and yours from our family at Jake’s Finer Foods!