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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

ASORE study finds revenue increase in restaurant sector

Carlos Budet, president of the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association

At the same time, operational & energy costs are on the rise

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Restaurants Association (ASORE) presented its 2024 Projections report on Monday, an exhaustive study conducted in collaboration with the firm Inteligencia Económica analyzing the challenges and economic impact faced by the restaurant industry and its suppliers.

The study was led by economists Chantal Benet and Gustavo Vélez of Inteligencia Económica.

“At ASORE we are committed to anticipating and preparing for the future challenges of our industry,” ASORE President Carlos Budet said in a written statement. “With the presentation of the Projections 2024 study, we seek to provide our partners and the sector with a clear and strategic vision to navigate in a constantly changing market.”

Among the findings of the report for the restaurant industry in Puerto Rico are: a significant increase in sales, with 5% growth in the second half of 2023 compared to the first half, and a 57.4% increase compared to the second half of 2022. The observed constant increase is an indicator of the recovery and strength of the industry, the report noted.

The study also found an increase in operational and energy costs: 7% of restaurants experienced a significant increase in energy costs, ranging between 10% and 20%. The increase represents a significant challenge to restaurants’ profitability and operational efficiency, ASORE added.

There are currently some 2,609 vacant positions in the industry, underscoring the need for effective personnel recruitment and retention strategies.

To carry out the study, the Inteligencia Economica team surveyed 209 participants representing 1,069 establishments, including 39 distributors and 170 restaurants, ranging from casual dining and fine dining to quick service, coffee shops and bakeries.

Budet said of the report’s findings that “these results motivate us to continue strengthening our strategies and seek creative solutions to overcome obstacles, always with the objective of ensuring healthy and sustainable development for the entire restaurant industry in Puerto Rico.”

Other significant findings were:

* A general profit margin for restaurants ranging from 5% to 16%, with most between 8% and 12%.

* Although 5% of respondents have increased prices (3%-5%) in the past year there has been a decrease compared to 91% the previous year, reflecting a stabilization in price adjustments.

* About 63.5% of respondents indicated that more than 50% of their transactions are made with credit cards, highlighting the importance of digital payment solutions in the industry.

* The study found that the increase in labor costs and the minimum wage is seen as the main current challenge for businesses.

* Despite caution in the broader industry, 76% of respondents have a positive outlook for their businesses in 2024.

Vélez, one of the economists, pointed out that “these findings highlight both the challenges and opportunities for the industry.”

“It is crucial that restaurants continue to adapt and respond to these trends to thrive in the current economic environment,” he said.

Budet also called on the government and other entities to unite as allies in fostering an equitable and sustainable business ecosystem that benefits the entire restaurant industry.

“We are at a crucial time for our industry, and we must work together to ensure that our restaurants not only survive, but also thrive in 2024 and beyond,” he said.

In its more than two decades, ASORE has maintained a firm and constant commitment to developing and strengthening the restaurant industry in Puerto Rico, Budet said. Over the years, the association has gained strength and relevance, adapting to changing challenges and emerging with new achievements and greater reach. ASORE’s focus on guiding the industry toward a prosperous and sustainable future reflects its ability to evolve and its unwavering dedication to defending the sector’s interests, he added.

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