Consumers may expect to spend less overall on holiday gifts compared to this time last year, but what about upcoming holiday meals? What will holiday dinners looks like for Americans this year? Here’s what grocers and CPG suppliers can expect to see when it comes to winter holiday meal prepping in 2022.

Expected Spending on Holiday Meals Is Up

New CivicScience data suggest that roughly 70% of U.S. adults who plan to purchase food for upcoming holiday meals expect to spend the same amount or more than last year (n=2,383). People planning to spend more this year (30%) outweigh those who say they’ll spend less (21%), while 1-in-10 aren’t yet sure how they’ll spend. 

Nearly 1-in-3 Plan to Order Dinner

The majority of respondents who will be celebrating the holidays (81%) said they’re likely to prepare or partake in homemade holiday dinners, meaning many will hit grocery stores. Although, approximately 30% of respondents are planning to order one or more holiday dinners from a restaurant, grocery store, or online meal delivery service (such as HelloFresh or Williams Sonoma).

These are similar to percentages seen last year, which looked exclusively at Thanksgiving dinner plans (and did not account for online meal delivery).

What’s on Thanksgiving Shopping Lists?

A closer look at Thanksgiving plans shows that around 3-in-4 respondents will make grocery purchases this year for their Thanksgiving feasts. Among Thanksgiving celebrators:

  • Most (76%) will purchase turkey or another meat entrée. 
  • For side dishes, more plan to purchase fresh produce (58%) than canned or frozen items (41%)
  • Around one-quarter (24%) say they’re likely to purchase pre-made/prepared items – a category which has taken a hit in recent months.
  • Plant-based meat alternatives will be in the baskets of 8% of Thanksgiving shoppers, which could be related to waning interest in plant-based meat.

Inflation/COVID Will Have a Seat at the Table

What Americans buy for holiday meals this year will vary significantly by income and financial standing. Around one-quarter of lower-earning households ($50K or lower per year) will cut back spending on food this year compared to last year, whereas just 15% of middle- to upper-earning households ($100-150K per year) plan to do the same. 

This gap is even more severe when looking at pre- and post-pandemic financial standing – nearly one-third of people who are financially worse off will spend less on holiday meals, compared to 19% of those who are the same or better off. 

Enthusiasm for the holidays is connected to money and finances as well. Data reveal that those who are financially worse off are the most likely to feel holiday traditions are less important now than before the pandemic – the opposite is true for U.S. adults in a better financial place, of whom nearly 40% say that holiday traditions are more important to them now than prior to the pandemic.

Plenty of other factors play into how consumers will spend on upcoming holiday meals, such as age and region. Get more breaking consumer insights related to the holidays and CPG market. Contact us for an InsightStore demo today.