Appetite for pizza and Italian food spikes in December, NPD Group reveals


When Britons eat out this Christmas, whether they are looking for simple food-on-the-go while shopping, a high street sit-down snack or meal, or a more formal dining occasion, many might have one thing on their mind: Pizza. Monthly visit figures over five years [Note 1] from global information company The NPD Group show that customers looking for Pizza & Italian either as a takeaway or on-premise meal, generate half as many additional visits (56% more) in December than the average month. In December 2015, visits that specifically included a pizza shot up 26% (to 59 million or 12 million more than a normal month). Pasta is popular too, with December 2015 visits up 11% over the average month.

Passion for pizza   
There’s a big demand for pizzas especially, with 60 million servings sold in December 2015 versus 49 million in an average month. The NPD Group says there’s nothing to stop the 60 million figure being exceeded this year. Turkey might be the traditional Christmas choice [Note 2], but the consumption figures for pizza are roughly equivalent to every person in the UK indulging in festive pizza in December too.

Festive spenders
December is extremely important in the £50 billion British foodservice industry, representing an opportunity for operators to tap nearly 1 billion visits and more than £4.6billion in sales. Foodservice establishments offering Pizza & Italian in December can look forward to a 77% increase in total spend and a 14% increase in the average bill in this channel. Consumers in foodservice outlets generally spend 12% more money in December than they spend in an average month, treating themselves to more expensive items, especially in pubs and restaurants.

December feast; January hangover
In the Christmas season, foodservice operators are strong on seasonal themes and consumers are overwhelmed with appealing offers, typically from the premium section of the menu. Throughout the industry, from bakery, sandwich or coffee outlets to pubs and the numerous high street casual dining restaurants, foodservice operators create a range of limited-period festive dishes and drinks. But the December indulgence can turn into a January hangover. An outlet selling Pizza & Italian can expect 25% fewer visits in January compared to an average month.

Cyril Lavenant, foodservice director UK at the NPD Group, said: “When we eat out in December, Christmas is the season of pizza and goodwill. There’s no doubt millions of Britons tuck into turkey at home on Christmas Day and other days over the festive period, but when we want to eat away from home then Pizza & Italian races ahead. Our determination to enjoy the festive season creates strong traffic on the British high street that foodservice operators fight hard to capture. If every month was like December, the £50 billion British foodservice industry would be worth nearly £60 billion each year. That’s really talking turkey! But if December is good for the foodservice world, the industry slows up in January. With many people dieting in January, operators battle to convince cash-strapped consumers to keep eating out.”