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Study: Puerto Rico restaurants are faring better despite pandemic hit

Nearly half of the island’s restaurants — or 48.7% — confirmed in a survey by the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association that their sales have been higher from January to July 2021, compared to the same period for the previous year, despite still experiencing the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey presented during the annual convention of the trade group known as ASORE, that the shortage of employees is a determining factor for the industry to maintain more limited hours, as the sample indicated that 27.5% confirmed the shortfall of people to fill jobs is between 30% to 80%.

“The current reality is that, although we’re on the road to recovery, we cannot drop our guard now, so making our current situation visible and projecting the future is essential for the good of the industry and the country’s economy,” ASORE President José Vázquez said.

“With this report, shows the current reality in which a representative sample of the industry to be able to predict the future,” he said.

The restaurant industry represents about $2 billion in annual consumption, representing 6.4% of retail sales with more than 4,000 establishments on the island.

The report covers to the period from January to June 2021, when 120 participants were surveyed, including owners, operators, managers and employees of the sector — a group that represents 960 establishments.

The representative sample took into consideration businesses of all sizes, from small businesses, including coffee shops, quick-service restaurants, bakeries, and fine dining restaurants.

Among the survey’s findings are:

  • 90.8% of the responses come from small and mid-sized enterpreises (those with 250 employees or less);
  • Following the lockdown caused by COVID-19, sales decreased by 20.4% with the months of March and April 2020 representing the most significant drops;
  • The months after the first shutdown led to restaurant sales leveling out to previous months, but remaining 4% below previous years;
  • For the first quarter of 2021, 51.4% of the sample indicated that the company’s situation was “bad;” and,
  • 39% of the sample reported that since the beginning of the quarantine, on March 15, 2020, their sales have fallen more than 50%, followed by 26.7% that indicated a drop in sales of between 30% to 50%.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 27 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.
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