Aruba Food & Beverage Association, AF&BA, conducts restaurant survey

The Aruba Food & Beverage Association recently conducted a survey among restaurants focusing on Convid19 and how it affected the restaurant sector. Thirty-six (12%) restaurants responded to the survey.

The first question “Did you apply for wage-subsidy?” 61.1% responded having applied, while 38.8% did not. Conclusions may be drawn that restaurants were hesitant to apply for the wage-subsidy because they were uncertain about their ability to re-open and preferred the more temporary FASE subsidy.

On the second question “How would you describe your business?” 83.3% responded to be closed for business with ZERO INCOME. 11. % reported they retained 25% of sales; and 5.56% claimed to have retained 50%. We may conclude that the F&B sector suffered a tremendous blow due to Convid19 and the corresponding lock down.

“Would you re-open serving on your outside terrace from May 25th?” Was the next question and 36.1% confirmed they would open with a terrace and 63.89% said they won’t.

Question number four, “How much of your staff you think you can retain 3 months from now?” 61.1% responded they thought they would be able to retain 100% of their staff through the month of July; 16.67% responded being able to retain 75%; 11.1% thought they could retain 50% and 11.1% responded they could retain just 25%. The response reflects optimism possibly based on the recently received wage-subsidy and the hope that this subsidy will carry the sector through the month of July 2020. Based on this question it is estimated, however, that 1,000 employees will lose their job in the restaurant sector.

The fifth question “How much of your staff do you think you can retain 6 months from now?” 47.2% responded being able to retain 100% of their staff through the month of October; 25% responded being able to retain just 75%; 22.2% responded being able to retain 50%, and 5.56% responded to be able to retain 25%. In the fall, the number of restaurant that claimed they could retain all their staffers dropped by 15%, due to the minimal number of tourists expected on the island. That drop from 61.1% to 47.2%, reflects the decline in the number of visitors. This also implies that many restaurants will not be able to survive without the wage-subsidy or another type of financial aid.

“When do you think it would be safe and sustainable to open your restaurant” was question number 6 and 13.89% answered to be able to open their restaurant in June; 5.56% are thinking about opening in July; 8.33% in August and 13.89% somewhere in September, 13.89% set their opening day in to 5 – 6 months down the road.

Moreover, 27.7% will open when GOA authorizes it while the majority, 30.56%, is not sure. Some analysis here may guide us to a projection of 200 restaurants which would consider opening 6 months from now. An AHATA projection of 30% occupancy would justify 100 open restaurants which will force the sector into a regretful ‘Survival of the Fittest’ mode, if indeed 200 restaurants plan to be open.

On the last question “Do you consider closing your restaurant?” 8.33% thought they will close their restaurant while 83.3% thought they would remain operational; another 8.33% is not sure yet.

In general, gratitude was expressed on the wage-subsidy grant that was successfully administered by SVB and managed by GOA. 

AF&BA plans to have another survey next month with questions pertaining to the opening of terraces, and the required Aruba Health & Happiness Code. The second survey will repeat some of the questions here, to study trends of future re-openings.

Considering the many challenges ahead, AF&BA recommends restaurant operators to reach consensus on shorter working hours and fewer days with staffers now that hotel occupancy is low, and insufficient to sustain 100% of staff at 30 – 40% guests.  

ACCORDING TO AF&BA, flexibility of labor laws will be key for our restaurant sector survival. AF&BA urges GOA to start moving in that direction, FAST.

For additional information you may write to: [email protected]


Share on:

May 25, 2020
Rona Coster