Restaurant dining down 10%, industry body claims

 

The number of people eating out has dropped by some 10 per cent and diners are spending up to a fifth less than they used to, a conference has heard.

The Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) annual conference heard claims that Ireland is the most expensive place in Europe to run a restaurant and the industry called for Government intervention to reduce overall costs.

Some 48 per cent of restaurants now see a decline in business that is worse than they expected six months ago, the event heard.

But the majority of restaurants surveyed by the organisation said they expected the decline in business to ‘bottom out’ at the end of this year, with positive growth early next year.

RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins said: “Restaurants are facing challenging times ahead with the cost of doing business increasing on a weekly basis. We are calling on the Government to seriously address the issues that affect the restaurant sector.”

“Our results also show the cost of operating a restaurant is continuously increasing with Ireland now becoming the most expensive place to do business. We pay our staff one of the highest wage rates within the European hospitality sector.”

Mr Cummins said the industry here was obliged to charge customers rates of VAT and excise duty which are at the “top of the EU league”.

“Our food input costs are 24 per cent higher than the EU average. The Irish restaurant sector cannot continue within such a regime.”

The RAI said the restaurant industry employs some 64,000 and contributes €2 billion annually to the economy.