Whether it's families enjoying a meal together to celebrate Christmas or couples planning a Valentine's Day date night, national holidays are great opportunities for restaurants to drive sales.
In 2022, travel and dining returned to nearly pre-pandemic levels, as COVID-19 booster shots and less severe variants gave consumers confidence to go out again. At the same time, global challenges of inflation, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and other lingering effects of the pandemic impacted consumers and restaurant operators alike.
Keep reading to find out how these trends impact consumers' dining behavior during the holidays.
What is the busiest day of the year for restaurant food delivery?
The restaurant industry experienced somewhat of a rebound in 2022 as consumers felt more comfortable dining out. Restaurants Canada reported that annual commercial foodservice sales increased by 7.3% compared to pre-pandemic sales in 2019.
Even as Canadians return to their pre-pandemic dining behavior, food delivery remains a convenient option for consumers looking to reduce stress and save time — especially on holidays.
Which holidays generated the most deliveries for restaurants? Here are the top ten busiest holidays for food delivery in 2022, based on the average number of DoorDash deliveries per open restaurant location:
New Year's Day
Comparing 2022 vs. 2021 busiest holidays for restaurant food delivery
To help restaurants understand consumers' evolving holiday food delivery preferences, let's compare the top 2022 rankings to the prior year's rankings. The below infographic shows the busiest holidays for restaurant food delivery in 2022 vs. 2021, based on the average number of DoorDash deliveries per open restaurant location.
Christmas remained the busiest day of the year for restaurant food delivery, followed by New Year's Day in the #2 spot, as families continue to seek convenience during the hectic winter holiday season. Other consumers may have opted for food delivery after experiencing travel delays and cancellations caused by a severe winter storm around Christmas Eve.
The biggest year-over-year-change in 2022 was Good Friday climbing 13 spots from 2021 to reach #3. Easter also jumped in ranking from 2021 to #8 as families chose the convenience of food delivery instead of cooking over the holiday weekend.
Remembrance Day, which we did not track in 2021, appeared as #4 for 2022. This could simply be because the holiday fell on a Friday in 2022, which, according to the 2022 Restaurant Online Ordering Trends report, is the most popular day of the week for food delivery on DoorDash. Another Friday that made the list was Black Friday, as consumers accompanied their online shopping with food delivery.
Family Day appeared in the #9 spot, perhaps as busy parents ordered delivery for their children who had the day off from school.
Finally, Mother's Day, a reliably busy day for restaurants for dine-in and delivery, took the #10 spot in 2022, as families gathered to celebrate this special occasion.
Planning for the busiest holidays for restaurants in 2023
Wondering how to prepare your team and your kitchen for these high order volume days? We put together a few tips to effectively manage your operations on the busiest days for restaurant food delivery on DoorDash.
Plan to staff up for these holidays. You may want to have an expo overseeing incoming delivery orders and firing them to the kitchen, or double-checking each order as they go out to Dashers so you avoid having missing or incorrect items.
Organize the kitchen. Include a "lane" specifically for takeout orders, with a kitchen display system (KDS) or tickets for pickup or delivery going directly there.
Try to stay open when you say you will (this is called uptime). If your kitchen gets too busy to fulfill delivery orders on time, DoorDash partners can update your store to "Busy," which signals longer wait times to potential customers. For especially busy times, you can hit "Pause" to temporarily stop accepting DoorDash orders. You can also edit your store hours for specific days or occasions.
Maintain an accurate menu. Need to 86 a menu item? No problem. Use DoorDash's menu manager tools to temporarily deactivate items on your DoorDash menu.
For more tips, read our Learning Center articles How to Manage Orders on DoorDash, How to Avoid Avoidable Cancellation, and How to Add Store Essentials in the Merchant Portal.
Best practices for restaurant holiday marketing
By understanding which national holidays are likely to be the busiest for food delivery, operators can build a restaurant marketing strategy that engages guests and drives revenue.
Here are a few tips for restaurants to make the most of the busiest holidays for food delivery:
Share photos of festive menu items across your channels. Customers eat with their eyes first, so serving up appetizing visual content on national holidays can be a surefire way to secure sales.
Host a giveaway. Known for boosting social media engagement, contests are a creative, cost-effective way to tap into customers' competitive nature and inspire interaction with your brand on national holidays. Who wouldn't want to win a coupon for your restaurant or a free dessert on their next delivery order?
Launch holiday-inspired incentives. Use DoorDash marketing tools to make your restaurant stand out on holidays. Promotions incentivize new, existing, and/or lapsed customers to order from your store with a discount, $0 delivery fee, or a free item. Sponsored Listings are ads that are featured in highly visible places in DoorDash, like the homepage and the top of relevant search results.
Promote holiday campaigns well in advance. Give guests many opportunities and reminders to make plans to dine with you (instead of discovering they'd missed out a day too late).
Support your local community. Help customers make a positive impact in their community by offering a discount to anyone who donates to an organization of your choice, or by donating the profits from sales of a certain menu item.
Want more tips to drive food delivery sales on national holidays? Download the free 2023 Holiday Marketing Calendar and Toolkit to get a calendar of 270+ holidays and creative ways for restaurants to drive sales year-round. If you’re interested in partnering with DoorDash, sign up today. For DoorDash partners, log in to try DoorDash marketing tools with a $100 free marketing credit per store.*
*Limited-time offer available only for Australia and/or Canada merchants that have not previously used Sponsored Listings; DoorDash may end this offer at any time. Navigate to the Marketing tab in the Merchant Portal to see if you’re eligible. Once the $100 credit is consumed per store, merchants will be automatically charged for the remainder of the campaigns per store. Merchants may cancel campaigns at any time; once cancelled, any unused credit is forfeited. No cash value. Non-transferable.