Study: Puerto Rico consumers spend 25% more a month to eat out
Puerto Rico consumers are spending 25% a month more this year, or $493, to eat at restaurants, versus the $381 they spent in 2018, according to the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association’s most recent EAT study.
The highest level of satisfaction with all different types of restaurants exceeds 70%, while 9 out of 10 consumers are most satisfied with the overall service and courtesy of the staff, the study further noted.
The third edition of the study presents “an exhaustive report that provides an overview of the industry, including its current status, challenges, realities and customer behavior, and other data,” the trade group known as ASORE in Spanish stated.
ASORE commissioned the EAT study to market research firm The Research Office, which interviewed 1,000 adults (men and women) between the ages of 18 and 64 on Sept. 2-23, 2022. A representative sample of several socioeconomic levels was selected from all the towns, except Vieques and Culebra.
This year, the EAT study confirmed the changes in consumer habits promoted by the COVID pandemic, the increase in remote work, the reduction in the number of employees in restaurants, changes in the food distribution chain and temporary closures of dining rooms, among others.
“Never before has the industry faced so many changes simultaneously. Changes that certainly forced us to rethink the way the business is conducted,” ASORE Chairman Mateo Cidre said.
“Great challenges required creative ‘out of the box’ ideas to keep up quality and service to all who visit us. Today I can tell you, after seeing the results of EAT 2022, that the restaurant industry grew in the face of these adversities and our people, the customers, understand and support us,” he said.
The study also revealed that the average amount that consumers said they spent on each visit to a quick service restaurant is $24, while the amount is $56 at family restaurants.
Meanwhile, the report showed that 17% of those interviewed said they are “confident and satisfied” with their current financial situation, while indicating that they visit coffee shops an average of 10 times and quick service restaurants 7.5 times a month.
“The industry is entering a new normal, as there are clear changes in consumer behavior following the pandemic, including a significant increase in takeout and delivery purchases, and the use of more technology,” said José Alfonso, of The Research Office.
“However, despite the service challenges the industry has faced over the past three years, the consumer is becoming more tolerant and satisfied with the service and attention they currently get, they’re satisfied,” he said.
One element that apparently has become key to the restaurant industry’s sustainability is mobile phones, which are used for restaurant-related activities, such as looking for directions to get to them, review digital menus and pay for their orders.
Two out of three consumers said the use of technology in restaurants makes the experience easier, while a majority of four in five feel that technology complements human service, the study showed.
Restaurants serving alcohol break jobs records
In related news, Puerto Rico Economic Development Bank (BDE, in Spanish) President Luis Alemañy said eateries that serve liquor has managed to set a jobs record.
During Fiscal 2022, the segment employed 67,000 people, 16.3% more than during Fiscal 2021, or 9,400 additional workers. The accrued average during the first eight months of 2022 (January-August) is 69,600 people employed in food services and places where they sell alcoholic beverages, or 15% higher than for the same period last year, or 9,100 additional workers.
This sector also represents 7.4% of total employment in Puerto Rico, and 9.5% of private employment, said Alemañy, citing a study by the agency’s Center for Economic Studies.
“Both numbers of people employed — for fiscal year 2022 (July 2021-June 2022) and so far this calendar year (January-August) — are the highest in the registry of salaried employment for the sector, which dates from January 1990,” Alemañy said.
“Similarly, August 2022 was the month with the highest number of foodservice and liquor jobs to date with 73,000 workers. Retail sales in the restaurant industry and alcoholic beverage venues also showed favorable results through the last available report to July 2022,” he said.
The accrued, total from January to July 2022 is $1.4 billion in sales, 12.5% more than for the same period of 2021, and so far, it is the highest total reported for the first seven months of the year since 2017, according to the agency.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s inflation levels for August 2022 was 6.5%. In terms of categories, food and beverages showed 9.6% growth compared to the previous year, according to the BDE’s numbers.
The consumption of food outside the home presented an inflation of 7.7%. Within the sector, the foods with the highest inflation have been chicken (22.3%), eggs (50.3%) and fats and oils (23.4%).
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