Hospitality operators look set to benefit from the return of the Christmas party, with reports from one bookings firm that bookings are up more than 70% on last year.
Online booking service BookaTable said it had registered a 73% rise in bookings, with Friday 10 December as the most popular day for celebrating.
But the traditional Christmas meal seems to be losing popularity, with an increased number of Brits choosing dishes like tagliatelle and tiramisu over turkey and Christmas pudding, according to the sites. The most favoured food for Christmas party meals this year is Italian with 62% of revellers choosing this cuisine, compared with French (12%) and British (6%).
Jemima Bird, marketing director from Tragus Group, which includes Strada, Bella Italia and Café Rouge, said: "We've seen a significant rise in group bookings for Christmas parties, especially compared with last year. Interestingly, it seems our customers are not only ordering from a Christmas menu, but plenty are requesting Italian menu options instead. It might be that they are happy to wait till Christmas Day for their turkey with all the trimmings."
A spokesman for the British Hospitality Association said: "It's great for our industry that consumer confidence has returned to the extent that Christmas party bookings have seen such an increase. Restaurants rely on being full in December to cover the quieter times so this should stand them in good stead for the New Year."
Celia Pronto, managing director - consumer marketing for BookaTable, added: "The Christmas party is back with a bang in 2010 as it seems businesses are able to begin rewarding their employees again. Although many places are now fully booked, those still looking can find some fantastic deals."
By Neil Gerrard
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