Puerto Rico’s restaurant industry generated more than $1.9 billion in 2019, a decrease of 6.5% compared to 2018, according to an economic study commissioned by the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association, or ASORE in Spanish.
The decrease was attributed to a loss in population and the lack of family income growth.
The research was conducted a year after the “ASORE EAT 2018 Study,” shows changes in the current mood of the island’s consumers following last summer’s political turmoil and the reduction in SNAP welfare benefits.
However, the frequency in visits to restaurants does not show any drops, the study confirmed. The mix of options that consumers visited also expanded, to include food trucks, bars, ice cream shops, coffee shops and delis.
“An important reveal is the relatively high proportion of consumers that would like to use restaurants at large more often, with peaks for certain venues, but yet are not being properly enticed,” the research showed.
Still, consumers spend $445 in restaurants on a monthly basis, a 17% increase vs. 2018, or $64 more.
Puerto Rico had 4,283 restaurants in 2019 that employed some 63,000 people, the study confirmed, citing government data.
As for the use of technology, the latest EAT study confirmed that local restaurants are lagging behind U.S. counterparts in its adoption, while consumer appetite for using it is “high and growing.”
“Consumers seem to be ready for new generation technology that reduces interaction with humans,” the study concluded, saying that restaurant patrons also want “tableside tablets and self-service kiosks to place orders, rather than interacting with humans.”
“There is a high craving for emerging restaurant technologies, led by adjustable menu prices and ordering suggestions based on previous selections,” the study showed.
Researcher José Alfonso of The Research Office, which conducted the study, said there is a trend among consumers to support businesses that invest in local products to develop their menu.
They also favor those eateries offering healthy options on its menu and that offer the best discounts and specials.