CivicScience is continuing to track how Americans are spending this holiday season. With food prices still rising, what can we expect to see for holiday meals this year?

Expected Meal Spending Is Up

A larger percentage of U.S. adults who are celebrating the winter holidays continue to plan on spending more this year rather than spend less – and holiday meals are no exception. While a plurality say they will spend the same amount as last year, roughly 30% will spend more on food for holiday meals, outweighing 24% who say they will spend less this year.

Homemade meals remain the most popular for the holidays. Most celebrating households will be making dinner this year, while 1-in-10 plan to order from a restaurant. A small percentage say they’ll order from a grocery store’s service, while an even smaller percentage will use an online meal delivery service such as Blue Apron or Williams Sonoma. 

Join the Conversation: Does your family typically order takeout for dinner the night before a major holiday?

Spending Plans Vary by Grocer

People who shop for groceries primarily at large supercenter retailers (such as Walmart) or regional grocery chains (such as Safeway) over-index as the most likely to plan on spending more for holiday meals this year. But while supercenters can expect a percentage of their customers to make budget cuts this year, large regional grocery shoppers are the least likely to reduce spending on meals. Meanwhile, specialty grocery store customers (such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods shoppers) are the least likely to say they’ll be spending extra bucks on food this year.

Holiday Sentiments Relate to Consumer Spending

Inflation likely accounts for one reason celebrators expect to spend more. Higher-income households (earning $100K or more annually) that have the funds are far more likely to plan to spend more on meals this year, while households earning less are much more inclined to say they will spend less.

But personal financial situation is just one motivator. Consumer sentiments about the holidays have a clear connection to spending intent. Interestingly, U.S. adults who say the holidays are more important to them now than prior to the pandemic are the most likely to increase their spending on holiday meals. Comparably, those who feel the holidays are less important now are the most likely to spend less on meals this year. 

Take Our Poll: Who usually cooks the big meal when your family gets together to celebrate holidays?

For even deeper consumer insights into the holiday season and beyond, get in touch.