Whether it's families enjoying a meal together to celebrate Christmas Day or Halloween party-goers seeking a savory nightcap, national holidays are great opportunities for restaurants to drive sales.
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt worldwide, many people turned to food delivery to celebrate the holidays at home. In 2021, an estimated 1.6 billion people were expected to use online food delivery globally, with revenues jumping up from $136 billion in 2020 to over $151 billion in 2021.
Food delivery became a way for people to safely support local restaurants when dine-in wasn't available. In 2019, 65% of DoorDash customers tried a restaurant they wouldn't have otherwise tried because it was listed on DoorDash, and 3 out of 4 restaurants agreed that DoorDash has allowed them to reach new customers.
2021's busiest holidays for food delivery
Ever resilient, people found new ways to celebrate the holidays during the pandemic — from intimate family dinners to virtual parties to online mixology classes. These celebrations often included food delivery as a convenient, stress-free alternative to cooking.
As more people ordered in, which holidays generated the most deliveries for restaurants? Here are the top ten busiest holidays for food delivery in 2021, based on the average number of DoorDash deliveries per open restaurant location:
New Year's Day
New Year’s Eve
Comparing 2021 vs. 2020 holiday food delivery
To help restaurants understand the impact of COVID-19 on consumers' holiday food delivery preferences, let's compare the top 2021 rankings to the prior year. The below infographic shows the busiest holidays for food delivery in 2021 vs. 2020, based on the average number of DoorDash deliveries per open restaurant location.
In 2021, Christmas Day was the number one holiday for food delivery compared to Mother’s Day in 2020, revealing that families opted for the convenience of delivery instead of cooking or dining out amid the Omicron variant.
Christmas Day also saw the biggest year-over-year ranking increase, followed by New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day, as people opted to stay at home with loved ones instead of dining out.
Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Halloween saw a dip in the 2021 rankings—for example, more people decided to celebrate Halloween in 2021 outside the home, compared to 2020.
Labor Day and Memorial Day, two holidays typically associated with long weekend getaways, saw an increase in the 2021 ranking compared to 2020, as people may have decided to celebrate at home instead of traveling.
New to the list is Game Day, as people opted out of going to bars and relaxed at home or had smaller gatherings and ordered food online.
The #10 holiday was Father’s Day, which saw a dip in the 2021 rankings compared to 2020. This could be potentially due to the availability of vaccines and more outdoor dining options in the summer.
What holiday food delivery trends mean for restaurants
As health experts advise people to take precautions according to federal and state guidelines, restaurants can expect these food delivery trends to continue in 2022. 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. Customers eat with their eyes first — and nearly 50% of diners have tried a restaurant after seeing a social media post. Because of this, 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?
Offer holiday-inspired discounts. Launch promotions to make your restaurant stand out on national holidays. For example, you can complement sugar highs with a free savory appetizer on Halloween — or Mother's Day is the perfect opportunity for a BOGO promo.
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). These free Canva food templates are perfect for posting on social media — and catching followers' eyes on special occasions.
Want more tips to drive food delivery sales on national holidays? Download the free 2022 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 for DoorDash today. For DoorDash partners, log in to try DoorDash Marketing with a $100 free marketing credit per store.*
*This is a limited-time offer for select merchants in the U.S. valid until terminated by DoorDash; DoorDash may end this offer at any time. Eligible merchants will see the offer available in the Marketing tab in DoorDash's Merchant Portal. Stores that have previously participated in Promos or Sponsored Listings are not eligible for the credit. After the $100 credit is consumed per store, merchants will be automatically charged for the remainder of the campaigns per store. No cash value. Non-transferable.