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Approaching Christmas with caution due to economic uncertainty

Artículo Delectatech: Navidades con cautela ante la incertidumbre económica.

The restaurant sector in Spain is gearing up to close out the year 2023 with the arrival of the holiday season. These recent weeks represent a pivotal moment to reflect on the challenges faced throughout this year and anticipate the upcoming landscape. The question at hand is: Have we surpassed pre-pandemic figures, or are we heading towards a new year focused on the recovery of the sector rather than its evolution?

To understand the potential outcomes of this holiday period, Delectatech conducted a study using its Artificial Intelligence engine and machine learning algorithms, using online information from over 260,000 dining establishments across Spain. This analysis aims to scrutinize diner behavior from the season's onset, compared to the same period in 2022.

Changes in consumer preferences

In 2022, the holiday season witnessed a marked surge in the occupancy of high-end gastronomic establishments, unlike 2021, where lower-cost establishments took the spotlight , due to an economy hindered by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indeed, an increase in establishment occupancy during these festivities is anticipated. However, it's not expected that high-cost establishments will lead this surge, but rather restaurants offering more accessible price ranges, sean los  establecimientos de alto coste los que lideren este incremento, sino los restaurantes con rangos de precios más accesibles, in response to consumers' cautious spending behavior.

This trend is attributed to a slight decline in consumer confidence, despite a decrease in inflation, standing at 70.5 points in October 2023, as per the Center for Sociological Research (CIS). Overall, the lack of confidence adds to economic uncertainty, influencing purchasing decisions among Spaniards.

Occupancy across cities

Reflecting on 2022, the average occupancy in Spain followed the trend of previous seasons, experiencing a 5.87% increase in December. This behavior wasn’t uniform across all Spanish cities: while Barcelona, Palma, and Bilbao recorded barely perceptible increases, Madrid led the festivities, marking an 8.73% increase in occupancy compared to preceding months, alongside Sevilla (+8.45%) and Valencia (+7.98%). Madrid not only saw a considerable rise in footfall but also outperformed other cities, solidifying its position as the epicenter of the Horeca sector during the winter season.

Regarding 2023, considering changes in preferences and adjustments due to the economic situation, it will be crucial to evaluate whether the observed patterns from the previous year will repeat or if there will be a more uniform occupancy behavior.

Gastronomic Trends by regions

The study unveils intriguing variations in gastronomic preferences across regions at the onset of the festive season.

Tendencias gastronómicas por regiones. Artículo Delectatech.

Community of Madrid

The Community of Madrid stands out with a substantial 19.7% increase in mentions of desserts on directories and digital platforms. Chocolate sees a 53% surge, while "callos" experiences a 47% increase, and churros stand out with a significant 45.8% rise. Concerning beverages, there's a growth of 17.7% in wines and a 13.2% increase in beers.

Catalonia

Although not reaching the same figures as Madrid, desserts take a prominent position, with a 14% increase compared to November. Tapas decrease by 3%, while meat sees a 17% growth. December's big winners in Catalonia are soups and risottos with a 56% surge. Additionally, there's a higher inclination towards beer compared to November.

Andalusia

This region experiences a 74% increase in comments about chocolate churros, solidifying them as a favorite product. Hummus also sees a 68% surge, and meat, in general, emerges as a prominent product with a 21% increase. Iberian ham shows a significant 52% rise.

Conclusion

In a year marked by uncertainty and constant transformations, consumers seek to adapt to a new reality, preferring mid-priced establishments that allow them to enjoy dining out without compromising their finances. 2024 is envisioned as a year wherein the sector must innovate and devise new strategies to continue attracting these consumers, adapting to this shifting reality and market transformations.

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