Spend Drop Hits Hospitality

A significant decrease in consumer spending last year overwhelmingly hit restaurants and hotels, according to new data.

Figures compiled by the Central Statistics Office show that while overall household spending on goods and services dropped by €10 billion in 2020, two thirds of that – €6.5 billion – was specific to hospitality which has increasingly felt the pinch from Covid-19 related changes in public behaviour.

A shift away from licensed premises and towards the relative perceived safety of home is also reflected by a €0.5 billion rise in household spending on alcohol for domestic consumption.

The CSO’s Economic Life and Covid-19 in Ireland 2020-2021 analysis, published on Monday, shows people’s gross savings last year increased by 166 per cent to €31.5 billion, another strong indication of less money being spent in businesses. The data is designed to show the economic impact of the pandemic by comparing activity with the time period immediately leading up to it.

The toll taken on the hospitality sector in the context of public health measures has been a constant theme of pandemic response. Last week, following the latest round of restrictions including 8pm closing times, the Restaurants Association of Ireland said hospitality had been “devastated” and was now concerned for future viability.

“The loss of income over Christmas is about more than just the festive season, it is about surviving the winter months,” said Chief Executive Adrian Cummins, predicting staff layoffs of about 60 per cent during Christmas week, an ordinarily manic time for hospitality businesses.