This positive outlook from Dublin pubs contrasts with the uncertainty experienced by hospitality and tourism businesses based outside the capital, with difficult trading conditions being widely reported. The LVA believes that the survey data is further evidence of a growing ‘two-tier’ outlook in the tourism and hospitality industries between Dublin and the rest of the country.
The data was revealed in the LVA’s State of the Dublin Pub Trade 2019 survey published in advance of the Association’s AGM tomorrow.
The full breakdown of the projections for Dublin pubs shows that 48% are expecting growth in the region of 1% to 10% while 18% of Dublin pubs forecast growth of between 11% and 24%; 2% of pubs in the capital are anticipating an increase in business of over 25%. While the majority of Dublin pubs expect to see an increase in business, 21% believe things will stay the same this year and 10% are even forecasting a drop of between 1% and 10% while 1% of Dublin pubs think their business will decline by 11% to 24%.
The LVA survey also found that the average Dublin pub expects to hire an additional five staff during the year, 2 full-time and three part-time. This adds to the current 12 full-time staff and 15 part-timers employed on average in Dublin pubs.
Providing food has also become an increased area of focus within the Dublin trade and that trend looks set to continue in 2019 with 60% expecting to see their food business grow.
Four out of 10 Dublin pubs expect to be refurbished this year with one in eight planning to spend over €100,000 on this.
Despite the positive outlook, challenges remain for Dublin pubs with staffing, Brexit, insurance and competition being the areas of greatest concern, according to the Association. Pubs in the capital faced an average insurance cost increase of 50% over the last three years with the average insurance premium for Dublin pubs now running at €25,000 per annum. More than half of Dublin pubs also suspect they’ve been the victims of a fraudulent claim within the last five years.
Competition from other pubs, restaurants, hotels, cafes, trips abroad and other hospitality/ tourism businesses were also highlighted as a concern with Dublin pubs recognising they must respond to increased competition for disposal income and free time posed by from other leisure pursuits.
Six out of 10 Dublin pubs host live music in their establishments. Only one Dublin pub in 20 does not feature any kind of music.
The growth of the gin trend is also reflected across the capital with half of Dublin pubs now stocking more than 10 different types of gin. Craft beer is also becoming increasingly common in Dublin bars with 40% now serving six types or more.
And the days of leaving a cash float behind the bar are also decreasing in the capital with one-third of pubs in Dublin saying that credit and debit cards now account for more than half of all their transactions.
“Most Dublin pubs expect to see their main business and their food business grow over the course of 2019,” said LVA Chief Executive Donal O’Keeffe, speaking about the survey, “We can also expect to see the level of staffing in Dublin pubs continue to increase.
“That is an encouraging development and one that again highlights the importance of the trade as a significant employer in this city.
“This optimism would seem to confirm the growing discrepancy throughout the tourism and hospitality sector” he pointed out, “with a two-tier system developing. Tourism and hospitality businesses in Dublin are thriving while widespread reports would suggest the conditions in other parts of the country are more difficult for all businesses in this sector.
“While the situation is more positive in the capital, it also has to be acknowledged that there are still challenges facing Dublin pubs. There are serious concerns about staffing, with pubs finding it hard to get the right staff and to keep them. This is also putting pressure on wages throughout the sector. While the 50% jump in insurance costs and the difficulty in tackling insurance fraud is another key concern.
“The majority of Dublin publicans are also worried about Brexit and what impact that will have on the tourism trade. The decision to hike the hospitality VAT rate is deeply worrying in terms our tourism competitiveness.
“Increased competition is also a very real challenge. Operating in the discretionary spending sector of the economy, Dublin pubs do not just compete with other pubs, they also compete with restaurants, hotels, cafés and other tourism or hospitality ventures.
“There is no doubt Dublin is the most competitive market in the country for pubs and other hospitality businesses. The quality and variety of Dublin pubs contribute to Dublin being such a great place to socialise for locals and tourists alike. We remain confident of the ability of Dublin publicans to respond to changes in the marketplace and to adapt and grow their businesses in 2019 and beyond,” he concluded.