US seafood restaurants launch holiday promotions to lure inflation-weary customers

A cooked lobster wearing a Santa hat.

New surveys show more Americans will be gathering with friends and relatives this holiday season as the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, and higher numbers will be drawn to seafood restaurants' seasonal promotions. 

In response, seafood restaurants are touting special dishes and promotions for the holiday season.

A new National Restaurant Association survey found 77 percent of consumers will eat out more than usual during the upcoming holiday season. According to the survey, 57 percent of consumers plan to eat at a restaurant over the holidays, while 50 percent plan to order take-out or delivery for a gathering at home.

“During the holidays – maybe more than any other time of the year – we work to make meaningful connections with people in our lives. The restaurants in our communities provide the space and the comfort to do that while sharing a meal,” NRA President and CEO Michelle Korsmo said.

Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.-based Red Lobster is an example of a company offering “new and classic entertaining solutions” such as Petite Maine Lobster Tail and Lobster and Shrimp Cocktail platters. The chain is also touting family meals, such as the Whole Maine Lobster Holiday Feast and Bar Harbor Lobster Bake Family Meal, which customers can order online or at Red Lobster restaurants nationwide.

Red Lobster’s new website, Red Lobster Shop, features its 2022 Holiday Collection, a curated selection of “get-em-before-they're-gone seasonal and everyday apparel and accessories.”

Tampa, Florida, U.S.A.-based Bonefish Grill is touting seasonal dishes, such as Baja Scallop and Shrimp Scampi Pasta and Rockefeller Butterfish.

But despite Americans’ growing interest in dining out this holiday season, spiraling inflation will have an impact on their choice of establishment. The NRA survey found 89 percent of consumers who are planning to dine out in a restaurant and 89 percent planning to order take-out will consider deals or specials when choosing the restaurant.

Survey respondents said the higher cost of food during the holidays due to inflation concerned them, with 60 percent stating it will moderately or significantly impact their Christmas celebrations, while 45 percent saying it will have moderate or signficant impact on their New Year’s Eve celebrations. Still, 56 percent said they will spend the same as they did on New Year’s Eve last year, while 19 percent said they will spend more.

Along with increased dining out by consumers this holiday season, food and beverage industry analysts also expect consumers to gather together at home in larger numbers, pushing up retail seafood sales.

Over half, or 6 in 10 Americans, said they try to make room in their budgets for holiday celebrations, which “provides a bit more permissibility to purchase items they may skip during everyday meals with an eye on price,” 210 Analytics Principal Anne-Marie Roerink told SeafoodSource.

“Crab is a good example of how better prices drove increased demand in recent months, which bodes well for the rest of the sector if inflation can be tamed," she said.

Total retail sales for the holiday season are projected to grow 7 percent in 2022, which is slower than the 15.4 percent growth in 2021, according to research firm Insider Intelligence. However, the company predicts e-commerce holiday sales to grow 12 percent this year, higher than last year's 10.4 percent hike.

"Some shellfish categories are setting up for a great Christmas and New Year’s season," IRI Executive Vice President Americas Proteins Practice Leader Chris DuBois said. "Prices [for] lobster, crab, and oysters have declined significantly and, with meat prices still high, I think consumers will be excited.”

Seafood retailers are also seeking to take advantage of customers wanting to spend more during the holiday season.  Pacific Seafood recently launched its "12 Days of Fishmas" promotion, offering seafood holiday ideas and downloadable interactive festivities. Some of the offerings include a holiday giving guide, a Christmas-themed short story, a Spotify playlist consisting of holiday tunes, and a Pacific Seafood discount code.  

Photo courtesy of Bigc Studio/Shutterstock 


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