COVID-19 slams Puerto Rico restaurant sales in ’20

The president of ASORE José Vázquez-Barquet.

Puerto Rico’s restaurant industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing an estimated $ 352 million from January to September 2020, down 23.6% from the same period in 2019, a revealed the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association.

The business group known as ASORE has tasked research firm Inteligencia Económica to analyze the economic toll the pandemic and government-imposed restrictions have had on the industry.

For the study, the company surveyed 187 people representing 1,593 establishments in Puerto Rico – fine dining and casual restaurants, cafeterias, bakeries and quick service restaurants – from December 28, 2020 to January 22, 2021.

The results show that 38% of participants responded that their sales had declined by more than 50% from the start of the pandemic until December 2020. Meanwhile, 27% of those surveyed said their restaurant sales had declined. decreased between 30% and 50%.

“Without a doubt, the figures reflected in our study are that the restaurant industry is an important economic sector, which is deeply affected and therefore, the government and the leaders of this industry must work hand in hand on the courts, medium and long long-term strategies, ”said Gustavo Vélez, President of Intelligencia Económica.

“We need a clear and coherent public policy towards this sector which avoids a greater loss of jobs and the closure of businesses,” he said.

Regarding catering operations, 50% of participants replied that their business remains open during the hours authorized by the governor’s decree, while 35% replied that they remain open less than the authorized hours.

The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology – like delivery apps like Uva or Uber Eats – which has kept many restaurants afloat, the study showed.

At the same time, 96% of restaurateurs said they had invested in technology and security measures to protect customers and employees from the virus.

“It is for this reason that we urge the Ministry of Health to consider speeding up the order of vaccination of our associates, from group 1C to group 1B,” said ASORE president José Vázquez-Barquet, who was sworn in at the presentation held. at the Miramar Convention Center.

The study also found that other factors that negatively affected the industry were energy costs, as they appear to have the most impact at 82%, followed by economic depression at 80. % and the loss of population in third place, with 76%.

“The study shows the plight of restaurant owners and operators that we have publicly exposed over the past few months. We definitely need an economic relief for our business class with which we can balance the expenses and losses that we have suffered so far, ”said Vázquez.

In addition, the study shows that 65% of participants confirmed that it would take between one and two years for their sales to return to their pre-pandemic levels.

Ana Bisbal-López is a journalism, radio production and marketing student at the University of the Sacred Heart of Santurce, Puerto Rico. She believes media coverage is a necessity, which is why people deserve access to unbiased and truthful media platforms.

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