Thankfully for many hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland the Christmas period was a very busy time for them and the tills kept on ringing as people enjoyed some festive cheer after a couple of miserable Covid-stricken years. Spending on hospitality was back to pre-pandemic levels by all accounts which must have been a huge relief to the hospitality trade.
Cost Of Living Crisis Casting A Dark Shadow
However the cost of living crisis and huge energy bills are casting a dark shadow over the early part of 2023, with many business owners concerned that the profits accrued this Christmas will not be enough to tide them over during the next few months.
Colin Neill, the chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, spoke about these concerns in an interview with BBC Radio Ulster, which was relayed in an article on the Belfast Live website, where he said:
“The profit we make in the Christmas period is what we use to keep the lights on in January, February and indeed up to March,
“The worry is now profit has been reduced have premises made enough to keep them going there and what will the market now do?”
“That now is our worry about how we keep the lights on. The big worry obviously is profitability because we can’t pass on the costs we are getting hammered with.
“But Christmas was positive. It will now take a few weeks to see what profit came out of that and face now the downturn that we expect.”
Consumers Decided To Put Their Money Worries To One Side
And in the same article Janice Gault, the chief executive of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, said it’s quite difficult to compare this Christmas to other Christmases, but it seems many people decided to put money worries to one side and enjoy themselves this festive period.
She is quoted as saying: “I think it’s quite difficult to compare this Christmas to other Christmases, it’s very different from the climate of 2018 and 2019.
“Different cost base, different stresses – but I think overall people had made the decision that Christmas was going to be something they were going to put worries aside and go out and meet up with friends.”
It looks like this year could be make or break for many businesses, and not just in the hospitality sector, as the public at large struggle with paying their bills and putting food on the table. Buckle up, it could be quite a rough ride.