It is common to hear that Spain is a country of bars, but according to the Spanish Hospitality Federation, less and less. In 2017, for the seventh consecutive year, the number of beverage establishments was reduced, to a total of 184,430. Since 2010, there are 18,269 fewer premises and in 2018 the reduction will continue. It is a phenomenon that the association attributes not only to the crisis, but also to demographic processes such as rural depopulation or the aging of the population. However, the hospitality sector, which also includes restaurants and hotels, is growing. It won 5,000 stores last year and its production amounted to 129,450 million, up 4.9%. It also earned workers, 2.1%, up to 1.6 million employed.
Between Emilio Gallego, general secretary of Hospitality of Spain, the new brand of what until now was called Spanish Federation of Hospitality (FEHR), and its president, José Luis Yzuel, have made a diagnosis of the situation of the bars in Spain. "The housing bubble was a repositioning of the inhabitants in the cities, the new neighborhoods attracted population and this led to the relocation of premises to these areas and the closure of many other small traditional venues in aging neighborhoods," said Gallego.
"These new premises are generally larger [ha ejemplificado con el cierre de tiendas de alimentación absorbidas por supermercados] and with an offer more oriented to the new consumers ", he said, giving as an example the Madrid district of Las Tablas, which accumulates a varied offer of restoration, while neighborhoods with a more aged population, which also consumes less, lose premises." These bars, if they do not change and attract new audiences, have a very dark future, "said Yzuel.
"And then there is the demographic decline of the rural areas, the bar of the town was accumulating services -shop, lottery administration …-, but if there are no people in the villages, in the end the bars close", said Gallego. They have also highlighted in this process the growth of organized chains in the face of the decline of independent establishments.
Thus, the census of bars is reduced to 184,430 in 2017, seventh consecutive year of decline. In 2018 it will also fall "slightly", according to the forecasts of the organization. In fact, the federation believes that this fall is reaching a "stabilization point".
The decline of bars is offset by the growth of the rest of the hotel establishments, which includes restaurants, hotels and companies dedicated to catering At the end of 2017, there were 309,625, 1.5% more than a year earlier. It was the third year followed by growth, although the 2010 figure has not yet been recovered (314,185). The number of restaurants and food stands increased (3.8% to 76,492), catering and other prepared foods (5.6% to 16,617), as well as hotels (4.1% up 15,737), apartments and rural houses (up 8.5% to 14,091), camping (1.4%, up to 1,183) and other formats.
Gallego and Yzuel have highlighted the importance of hospitality in employment in Spain. According to data from the Confederation, taken from the Active Population Survey, the sector employed an average of 1,637,100 workers in 2017, 33,000 more (2.1%) than the previous year. It represents 8.7% of the entire employed population. "Hospitality is an intensive sector in human resources, it is a sector that fulfills a social function," said Gallego, who employs young people, immigrants and other sectors of the population with high rates of unemployment. In addition, Galician has wanted to claim the "role that employment has in regions such as the Canary Islands or Balearic Islands [donde ocupa a porcentajes muy elevados de la población], by the weight of the tourism sector, and in the establishment of population in rural areas. "