How to Prepare Your Food Business for the 2023 Canadian Holiday Rush

November 20, 2023

The holiday season is a critical time for food businesses, with increased sales opportunities and the potential for significant growth. However, it also brings unique challenges, such as shipping delays, managing customer expectations, and handling refunds and returns. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore how to prepare your food business for the holiday rush, drawing on insights from the 2022 holiday season in Canada.

Stats Around Sales in 2022 Holiday Season in Canada

The 2022 holiday season in Canada witnessed some remarkable trends and numbers that can provide valuable insights for food businesses. Key statistics include:

  • Overall Spending Increase: Consumer spending in Canada rose by 8.3% during the 2022 holiday season compared to the previous year, reflecting a robust recovery in retail sales.
  • Online Sales Growth: E-commerce sales continued to thrive, accounting for 18% of total retail sales, a 4% increase from the previous holiday season.
  • Price Sensitivity: A report by RCC x Leger showed that 67% of Canadians were more price-sensitive, actively seeking discounts and starting their holiday shopping earlier.
  • Inflation Impact: Inflation rates hovering around 4.7% influenced shopping behavior, with consumers prioritizing value and convenience.
  • Grocery Trends: Grocery sales saw a 5% increase, with convenience and nostalgia-driven purchases leading the way.
  • Impact on Shipping: The surge in online shopping led to shipping delays, with an average delay of 2-3 days reported by major carriers.

These statistics paint a vivid picture of the Canadian retail landscape during the holiday season, highlighting areas such as spending patterns, consumer behavior, and the challenges and opportunities related to shipping. Understanding these trends can help food businesses strategize and prepare for future holiday seasons, aligning their offerings and operations with consumer preferences and market dynamics.

How To Set Prepare for Holiday Rush

Plan Early

Start planning for the holiday season well in advance. Consider your inventory needs, staffing requirements, and marketing strategies. Early planning allows you to anticipate challenges and put solutions in place.

Offer Special Deals and Promotions

Create holiday-themed promotions and special deals to attract customers. Consider bundling products or offering limited-time discounts to incentivize purchases.

Enhance Customer Experience

Focus on providing an exceptional customer experience. Train staff to handle increased traffic, decorate your store or website with festive themes, and offer personalized recommendations.

Shipping Delays

Communicate Clearly

Shipping delays are common during the holiday season. Clearly communicate potential delays to customers and provide realistic delivery timelines.

Offer Alternative Solutions

Consider offering in-store pickup or local delivery options to mitigate shipping delays. Providing alternatives can enhance customer satisfaction.

Monitor and Adjust

Keep a close eye on shipping progress and communicate with customers if delays occur. Being proactive can prevent dissatisfaction and build trust.

Managing Customer Expectations

Set Clear Policies

Ensure that your return, refund, and shipping policies are clear and easily accessible. Transparency helps manage customer expectations.

Provide Excellent Customer Service

Offer responsive and empathetic customer service. Address concerns promptly and provide solutions that align with customer needs.

Utilize Technology

Consider implementing chatbots or automated responses to handle common inquiries. Technology can enhance efficiency and consistency in managing customer expectations.

Managing Refund/Returns During the Holidays

Create a Streamlined Process

Develop a clear and straightforward return and refund process. Make it easy for customers to initiate returns and provide clear instructions.

Train Staff

Ensure that staff are well-trained in handling returns and refunds. Consistent and empathetic handling can enhance customer satisfaction.

Monitor and Learn

Analyze return and refund trends to identify potential areas for improvement. Continuous monitoring and learning can lead to process enhancements.

Predictions for 2023 Holiday Sales in Canada

As the holiday season approaches, businesses are keen to understand the trends and predictions for 2023. Analyzing insights from industry experts and reports can provide valuable guidance for food businesses in Canada. Here's what the predictions for 2023 holiday sales in Canada look like:

  • Consumer Spending Patterns: According to a Deloitte report, Canadians are expected to spend less during the 2023 holiday season compared to 2022. The report predicts a 3% decrease in overall spending, reflecting concerns over inflation and economic uncertainty.
  • Online Shopping Continues to Grow: E-commerce is predicted to account for 20% of total retail sales, a continued growth from previous years. This trend emphasizes the importance of optimizing online platforms and managing shipping effectively.
  • Sustainability and Local Shopping: PwC's Consumer Insights report highlights a growing interest in sustainable and locally sourced products. Around 45% of Canadian consumers are expected to prioritize local and sustainable purchases, a trend that food businesses can leverage.
  • Health and Wellness Focus: Health and wellness products are predicted to see a 7% increase in sales, reflecting a continued consumer focus on well-being and healthy living.
  • Impact on Shipping: With the continued growth in online shopping, shipping challenges may persist. Businesses should prepare for potential delays and consider alternative fulfillment options.

These predictions offer a glimpse into the potential landscape of the 2023 holiday season in Canada. Food businesses can utilize these insights to align their strategies with emerging trends, focusing on areas such as online shopping, sustainability, health and wellness, and effective shipping management. By staying ahead of the curve and adapting to consumer preferences, businesses can position themselves for success during the critical holiday sales period.


Preparing your food business for the holiday rush requires careful planning, clear communication, and a focus on customer experience. By understanding potential challenges such as shipping delays and managing customer expectations, you can create strategies to navigate the busy season successfully.

Leverage insights from the 2022 holiday season in Canada to inform your approach, considering trends such as increased spending and price sensitivity. With the right preparation, your food business can thrive during the holiday season, building customer loyalty and driving growth.

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