Cancellations of reservations a few days after a dinner or a meal is held, gender that remains in the refrigerators and staff extensions that will not be possible. The sixth wave of the coronavirus is hitting the hospitality industry again, a sector that I was beginning to see a slight light at the end of the tunnel after months of restrictions and lack of customers. The annulments of celebrations for fear of contagions are already counted in Millionaires loses for restaurants and bars who “throw” profits from these Christmas dates to “resist” the first months of the year when activity drops.
The hospitality sector of the province looks with uncertainty every day the reservation list for the traditional Christmas lunches or dinners organized by companies, groups of friends or family, especially those that always arrive in the weeks prior to the most important days. Although also an important date on the calendar such as New Years Eve. At this stage, reservations for these days have already fallen 50% compared to those registered in 2020; and all taking into account that this period last year was one of the worst for the hospitality industry with restrictions, perimeter closures, reduced capacity and curfews. And that translates into very large losses. In Benidorm, the hospitality sector provisionally estimates the losses generated by cancellations in this month of December at one million euros, according to the Abreca Bars and Restaurants Association. A figure that multiplies in the province for bars and restaurants. A new “lunge” that adds to those of the last almost two years.
«The concern is total. Nobody was counting on this sixth wave and that it hit in this way, “said the president of the Alicante Restaurant Association (ARA), César Anca. Because the situation has changed in a matter of two weeks, from the December Bridge until now. This weekend was one of the key events for the sector because it is the one in which the most Christmas dinners and lunches are held, especially from companies or friends. “From what was planned to what we will do, there will be 60% less,” added Anca. “This weekend is the one with the most cancellations we have,” said Álex Fratini, member of Abreca. Even reservations that had been planned for months have been canceled.
The reduction of reservations and sales also affects restaurant staff. Mmany businesses expanded staff for these dates, but with less work, that will not be possible. “If this weekend is not what it was going to be, there will also be layoffs,” they say. Added to this are all indirect jobs: fewer diners, fewer products, therefore, fewer activities for drivers or warehouses.
The hoteliers are aware of the health situation and the “fear” it generates in consumers. In addition, “there has been a call effect with all the news” that has led many groups to cancel, especially companies. But, although “there are groups of friends and families who will celebrate because they feel safe, the damage has already been done.”
Because it is not only that sales are down this month, is that what the sector generates on these important dates is the “lifeline” for when activity drops after Christmas, that is, at the end of January and practically the month of February. “Christmas is the time to spend the desert in January and February,” said Anca. So the “blow” of cancellations makes them think about how to face the months following the Christmas period. For this reason, the hotel industry raises the need for administrations to react again to this situation and “we will have to start thinking about new lines of help.”
However, the Conhostur hospitality employer, which includes the Federation of Hospitality Entrepreneurs of the Province of Alicante (FEPHA), has launched a public awareness and sensitization campaign on the occasion of the Christmas festivities under the slogan “Let’s celebrate by taking care of ourselves.” A proposal that appeals to the responsibility before the meetings of these days but without forgetting that the hospitality industry is a safe field.
Products that will remain in the refrigerators or warehouses
The hoteliers will not only suffer from the drop in sales, but also from the gender purchase forecast and the disbursement that they have already made for the menus of these days and that will remain in refrigerators or warehouses. “We had started to stockpile, among other things due to the planned transport strike and the rise in prices of main products,” said César Anca, president of ARA. “Refrigerators will be full”, he added, something that Álex Fratini, from Abreca Benidorm also highlights: “Product was bought at the beginning of December; although we have learned to organize ourselves and also to acquire product at the last minute so that it does not remain in stock ».