The restoration expects a "full" Christmas in Tarragona after two years of restrictions
Inflation is through the roof, filling the tank of our car is a luxury, electricity bills have skyrocketed in recent months, we pay much more on mortgages because of a runaway Euribor... But lunches and dinners away from home for these upcoming Christmas parties, both family and business, we will not forgive them.
At least this is reflected in the forecasts with which the restaurant sector moves, in what will be the first Christmas without restrictions after the pandemic. These demand forecasts for Christmas gatherings around a restaurant table are very high, as confirmed by the Spanish Hospitality Association and endorsed by some restaurateurs in our territory consulted by the Daily.
According to some studies, such as the 'Sentiments' prepared by the NPD consultancy, the consumer plans to make up for lost time in terms of socializing with family and friends. Thus, 78% of those surveyed say that they will increase meals away from home and 63% will do the same with dinners in the coming months.
All the data on spending on eating and drinking away from home are already above those of 2019. Specifically, with an increase of 2% more in July, 5% in August and 3% in September of this year.
In this context, the first Christmas without restrictions since 2019 arrives. And the expectations are more than positive, so it is expected that the consumer will recover business and family lunches and dinners, until reaching a volume of business in the whole of the Spanish restoration similar to that of 2019, which was 3,250 million euros.
Javier Escribano, representative in the city of Tarragona of the Associació d'Empresaris d'Hostalería de Tarragona (AEHT), acknowledges that "the prospects for company dinners this coming Christmas are very good because, despite everything, spending it is not contained."
Escribano recalls that last year, around this time, they also had many reservations, but "the problem is that when the date approached, covid cases skyrocketed and many reservations were cancelled." But this 2022 everything has changed and “we are very optimistic. Seeing the rhythm we have on weekends, we believe that at business lunches and dinners we will fill up to pre-pandemic levels. Another thing is that, later, the profit margins are not the desired ones because of the enormous expenses that we have due to the rise in raw materials and energy”, laments this restaurateur.
Despite these difficulties in balancing the accounts, Escribano does not believe that «the prices of these business dinners and lunches are going to rise this Christmas above those of 2019, before the pandemic. They tend to be slightly more expensive meals, but we must not forget that before they were paid for by the company and now, most of them are paid for by the workers themselves, so we cannot raise prices excessively ».
At AC Planning Gourmet, they also agree on these optimistic forecasts for social lunches and dinners ahead of these Christmas parties. Its deputy director, Marta Prats, explains that "we already have reservations for the end of this month of November, although the strongest week is December 12 to 16."
Prats agrees with Escribano that, although the forecasts are very good, "we have the handicap of the increase in the cost of raw materials and fixed costs, such as gas, electricity, etc."
Another restaurateur who has full confidence in the upcoming festivals is Xavier 'Macarrilla', representative of the AEHT in Cambrils. «Not only will business lunches and dinners go well, but also Christmas and parties. We have had three years of restrictions and people want to celebrate," explains Xavier, who recalls that "last year, a few days before dinners and business lunches, a new wave of covid arrived and we had many cancellations of large tables. ».
Fortunately, “this year there is a different atmosphere. For example, by Saturday December 17 I have everything full," says this restaurateur, who defines himself as "very positive," although acknowledging that the economic time is not the most ideal. “We have to be realistic, because we are in a difficult moment. We have many reservations and we believe that they will be very good days. However, as the situation is what it is, we will not reach excellence compared to years before the pandemic.
For his part, Jorge Piera, from Galera Group -with a restaurant in Tarragona and three in Torredembarra-, acknowledges that «the forecasts are very good. In some restaurants we have everything full for specific days such as Friday, December 16 ».
This restaurateur explains that «this crisis that they say is coming, I do not see it in the hotel industry. The problem is that it could be even more incredible if it weren't for the fact that everything has gone up so much. But the billings are being higher than those of 2019 ».
Another positive aspect is that the hotel and restaurant sector arrives at these Christmas holidays after a more than good autumn. Escribano admits that «last long weekend we worked very well and on weekends too. Hopefully people keep going out on the weekends." And Marta Prats acknowledges that, at AC Planning, "the last quarter has gone very well for us, with many corporate celebrations, such as meetings, congresses, dinners, lunches, etc."