Citing high consumer confidence, the lowest unemployment in decades and higher take-home wages, consumers are ready to spend this holiday season. According to an annual survey from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, consumers anticipate spending an average of $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, up 4.1% from the $967.13 they indicated last year. NRF’s holiday spending forecast finds that retailers can expect strong demand this holiday season with sales reaching between $717.5 billion and $720.9 billion.
The good news for grocers is that consumers are earmarking expenditures in three main categories, with food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards second only to “gifts” as the greatest dollar allocation. The survey further found that 44% of consumers plan to do holiday shopping at grocery stores and supermarkets this holiday season.
Armed with a heartier entertaining budget, more consumers will look to their local grocer for chef-prepared holiday dinners, brunch and cocktail party favorites that are delicious and convenient.
Photograph courtesy of Whole Foods Market
When it comes to chef-led holiday catering, these five grocers have it covered with a variety of menus that are poised to help shoppers entertain effortlessly and in style this month.
1. “Let our talented chefs create your perfect holiday meal,” notes the online catering menu for Mollie Stone’s Markets in Mill Valley, Calif. Mollie Stone’s offers a traditional holiday dinner that serves 10 to 12 guests, as well as a wide variety of a la carte side dishes, available at all stores.
Mollie’s Free-Range Turkey dinner serves 10 to 12 for $159.99. In addition to a 12- to 14-pound turkey, the meal includes mashed potatoes, rich pan gravy, haricot vert green beans, traditional bread stuffing, maple orange glazed yams with cranberries, cranberry sauce, rustic dinner rolls and a harvest pumpkin pie.
A la carte items range from organic roasted beets and walnuts to gluten-free stuffing.
Proud purveyors of fresh seasonal plants and flowers, Mollie Stone’s Markets also offers a variety of holiday centerpieces upon request.
2. Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets has created an entire holiday catering catalog for 2018 that offers a mouthwatering meal for every gathering from a Taco Party for 12 (which can be picked up ready to heat or hot and ready to eat) to a Celebration Brunch for 16 that features signature spiral-sliced brown sugar ham, petite pastry tray, sliced fresh fruit tray, roasted red potatoes, asparagus with lemon zest, quiche lorraine, cannoli chip and dip tray, and a coffeecake tray for $235.
For larger gatherings, Wegmans offers the Grazing Party (serves 20 to 24 for $499), the highlights of which include sliced beef tenderloin tray, classic shrimp cocktail tray, tandoori chicken satay platter signature and more.
Holiday meals can be ordered from Wegmans’ website, which also suggests add-ons from sushi platters to floral arrangements, as well as wine and beer pairing recommendations to complement its different menus.
3. West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee recently announced that six Hy-Vee Market Grille restaurants in the metro now deliver lunch and dinner options to customers’ doorsteps, making it the perfect solution for people who are on the go this holiday season.
“Everything from the Hy-Vee Market Grille is made fresh to order by our chefs,” said Nate Stewart, executive vice president of perishables for Hy-Vee. “We’re excited to bring our menu to even more central Iowa customers through this new delivery option for lunch and dinner.”
To order, customers simply download the Hy-Vee Market Grille app, enter their address, and if delivery is available, it will show a delivery option for ordering.
“We know customers are busy and are looking for fast, fresh and delicious mealtime solutions, and now we can bring our family friendly Hy-Vee Market Grille menu right to their doorsteps,” said Stewart. “We’re excited to build on our curbside-to-go option and offer even more convenience through our delivery service.”
Hy-Vee Market Grille's menu focuses on fresh, with items such as Hy-Vee Choice Reserve beef that’s hand-selected for quality and flavor, as well as the freshest fruits and vegetables from the store’s own produce department and buns and breads from the store’s own bakery.
4. Gelson’s Markets in Encino, Calif., stakes a bold catering claim on its website: “We take orders ... seriously. You tell us you want delicious, you want gourmet, you want classic dishes prepared to perfection or recipes created and carried out by some of the best chefs in Southern California …”
Gelson’s offers a host of different hors d’oeuvres, dips and spreads, sandwich and sushi platters and complete holiday dinners, including a BBQ Chicken Dinner for Hanukkah for $69.99 (serves 4) that features two whole barbecued chickens, chicken broth and matzoh balls, potato pancakes, tzimmes, chopped beef liver with egg and noodle kugel.
5. Whole Foods Market is featuring a healthful Hanukkah menu that includes Wine-Braised Brisket from no antibiotics ever meat with no added hormones. The meal for eight, which also includes classic potato latkes with applesauce, cumin-spiced carrots and green beans with crispy garlic and parsley is $129.99.