Tense situation for Swiss restaurateurs

Swiss restaurateurs find themselves in a tense situation.
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Swiss restaurateurs find themselves in a tense situation.

The situation in the Swiss hospitality industry is tense. The companies expect high losses in turnover, liquidity has deteriorated. The hardship compensations have relieved the industry for a short time, but not sustainably. This is the result of a survey by Gastrosuisse, the Swiss association for hotels and restaurants.

Gastrosuisse surveyed 3,177 members on their business situation from 28 to 31 August. More than one third of the businesses (36.4 %) state that they are currently experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the Corona crisis. On the one hand, the existing regulations are placing a heavy burden on the hospitality industry. 85.7 percent of the members surveyed responded that the regulatory requirements are having a significant impact on their business results.

On the other hand, the turnover generated in the summer of 2021 was significantly lower than in the summer of 2020. Survey participants generated approximately 70 percent of their normal pre-Corona sales in July (69.9%) and August (70.6%). For the year as a whole (January through August), sales are slightly more than half (52.8%) compared to normal operations prior to the Corona Crisis.

In contrast to 2020, a similar decline in turnover can now be observed in all settlement areas. The overall business situation is tighter than a year ago. "Liquidity has deteriorated again over the summer", says Casimir Platzer, President of Gastrosuisse. In addition, about half of the establishments (48.5 %) assess the business development in the next three months negatively or very negatively. Only 18.2 percent expect a positive development. "Any restrictions would hit the hospitality industry harder than ever," Platzer said.

Compulsory certificate: companies expect high turnover losses

According to the association, a pending extension of the certificate (access for vaccinated, recovered, tested) to the hospitality industry means a reduction in guest potential of up to 45%. The majority of Gastrosuisse members fear a loss of turnover if the certificate obligation is extended to the catering industry. 56.7 percent of the surveyed businesses fear that the introduction of a certificate obligation will lead to a loss of turnover of at least 30 percent, despite the lifting of existing capacity restrictions. "Almost a quarter of the businesses (23.1%) expect at least a halving of turnover," says Platzer. Thirteen percent do not expect a drop in sales. Accordingly, 97 percent of establishments to date have opted not to voluntarily implement the Covid certificate requirement as a barrier to entry.

Demand for compensation

In view of the tense economic situation in the hospitality industry, new economic restrictions such as the certificate obligation immediately affect liquidity and endanger the viability of businesses, warns Gastrosuisse. According to employment statistics from the Federal Statistical Office, around 53,000 jobs have been lost in the hospitality industry since the beginning of 2020. "This corresponds to every fifth job," explains Platzer. .

Hardship compensation has helped the industry and prevented a clear-cut. The members surveyed assessed the liquidity in May 2021 as significantly better than in January 2021. However, for more than 50 percent of the recipients (52.4 %), the hardship payments covered less than 50 percent of the uncovered running costs during the officially ordered closures.

Restaurants nationwide were closed for 30 weeks and 6 days. In addition, there were partial closures such as curfews after 7 p.m. and cantonal closures. For over a quarter of survey participants (26.4%), compensation was less than 30 percent of uncovered ongoing costs. Hardship compensation gave recipients a brief respite. However, they are not sufficient to absorb the consequences of further restrictions. The members surveyed currently assess liquidity as worse than it was in May 2021. "The reserves have been used up," says Platzer. It is therefore not surprising that three quarters of the hospitality industry members (76.4 %) have not been able to repay or redeem any bridging loans to date.