Prices Driving Customers Away

Published on 15/07/2009 in Living in Spain

Once upon a time, half a decade ago, one of our main motives for moving to Spain was the cheaper lifestyle. We found the idea of cafe society and tapas for a few euros in the evening very appealing as was the novelty of eating freshly caught fish at a wobbly plastic table.

These were all simple pleasures that everyone coming from so called "rip off" Britain indulged in regularly. Well, those days are sadly behind us. Whereas before two couples could dine and drink out, maybe even feed some hungry children and still have plenty of change from a fifty euro note, one couple alone is lucky to get fed and watered for fifty euros in many of the chiringuitos along the coast.

When I get talking (moaning) to people, there is a general consensus that instead of decreasing prices and offering incentives to encourage custom, they are driving customers away. It may seem extreme to say that they are driving customers away but the truth is that they are putting customers off by practices such as inconsistent pricing, charging for things that haven't been ordered and generally not providing a level of service that inspires customers to return. In order to compensate for a downturn in profits many are passing on their losses on to those that do come through the door, fifty cents here and there soon adds up.

A takeaway cooked chicken used to be six euros and locally this can now be as much as nine euros, takeaway curries are a real indulgence here where you can pay as much as nine or ten euros for a minscule take away korma. These are all common gripes that are starting to niggle at people who are now holding back from getting a takeaway, preferring to throw a supermarket bought chicken in the oven or are getting together with friends at the weekend with a packet of sausages and some burgers to throw on the barbecue as a cheaper alternative to eating out.

Having said that, according to the local pollero, he is doing well despite his price hikes claiming that people who previously would have gone out to eat are buying a ready cooked chicken from him and preparing a salad at home to go with it. Simarlily, those who previously would have met friends for breakfast once or twice a week are settling for a mid morning coffee at the cheapest bars in town and nothing more.

Many British owned bars are switching on and realising that returning customers are the way to go.This is a far cry from the days when anyone looking to save a few a few cents would shy away from the British run places and opt for the cheaper Spanish options.Those days are gone as some friends of ours recently found out when they grabbed an impromptu tapas lunch at a local bar in the village. They were astounded when the bill came to sixty five euros for two couples and they were far from full. They argued that they could have gone to one of the British bars and all had a home made burger, chips and salad and the bill would have come in at little over thirty euros. But once bitten twice shy, they won't be going there again in a hurry and have told all their friends who will then tell their friends, all of us looking for good value in today's climate.

This summer will be the true test, coming from the UK and offer led chains such as Pizza Express etc, British tourists are hungry for big portions and competitive prices. They are going to be shocked to find it pricier than last year when eating at the chiringuitos and even more shocked to find shrunken portion sizes as we have experienced.

They may get caught out a couple of times with the elevated prices, pay them and think better of it in the morning, when they decide to buy a throw away bbq and eat in for the rest of the holiday, picnics on the beach and that kind of thing. It will be interesting to see which bars stick around those that went for cut price and volume or those who tried to quickly make the most of anyone who walked through the door.

Written by: EOS Team

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ya mum said:
13 March 2013 @ 10:08

its ok

glynn jones said:
27 September 2011 @ 07:29

i have a place in los montesinos near torrevieja which we visit 3-4 times per year and enjoy the mainly reasonably priced restaurants there,though one to definitely avoid is the american diner across from the casino at the habeneras complex.we had rack of ribs with around 20 chips and the price was 13.95 euros with no side salad or anything,the drinks were really dear also.please avoid at all costs.

jaxdon said:
26 August 2009 @ 19:21

I can still get menu del dia for €8 and a night out at a local spanish bar for 6 people with tapas, maincourses, desserts, lots of wine and liquers came to €110. Maybe I just live in the right area. The beach xiringuitos are expensive due to the high prices they have to pay the council for the priveleged location during the summer months.

dvpegg said:
18 August 2009 @ 13:18

Round our area (north of Murcia) what we have noticed is that most establishments have now been taken over by Brits because the Spanish seem unable to make a living from them. The result is that we still can and do get reasonable deals on breakfasts and lunches, but they're just not Spanish anymore - which is what I miss. Cafes and bars are really struggling to survive and the knock on effects are not obvious. For example, when I bought my place, there was a fantastic spanish run cafe/bar restaurant place which has since been leased from the spanish owner. Needless to say they are struggling to pay the lease so have decided to open up the basement for what can only be described as dubious activities involving scantily clad ladies..... I know needs must and I really am not a prude but its the knock on effect in terms of burglary/drugs etc. that comes hand in hand with such establishments that worries me. Its things like this which are the real cost to society from this economic downturn.

Margo said:
17 August 2009 @ 01:10

Good article. We have noticed higher prices too this past year. Combine that with the euro strength and it become prohibitive to eat out often. Our solution was to visit the supermarket, buy great steaks, BBQ, cooked chicken, salads, nice wine and eat at home more often. Perhaps eat out a couple of times whereas we would have eaten out most days before. If they want us to change this new habit, they are going to have to start making us feel we're not being ripped off, or go out of business. Simple. Hope they're reading this.

Marksfish said:
11 August 2009 @ 21:18

In Garrucha, it is a well known practise that there are English prices (higher) and Spanish prices (lower). However, even the smallest amount of effort at speaking Spanish qualifies you for the lower rate, so a bit of an incentive really.

We went to a chiringuito in Vera for San Juan and had a pretty small meal for 3 of us which came to €70. A night in the local steak house for 4 cost us over €100. The English run restaurant just down the road is offering a 3 course credit crunch lunch including drink for €8 a head!

Poppyseed said:
03 August 2009 @ 17:43

I was stunned when a few weeks ago I was charged nearly 9 euros for a skinny but tasty cooked chicken, here in the UK I would pay £3.50 tops. Eating out is certainly a lot more expensive than it used to be and where we are the quality is pretty poor too, but then it always has been poor.

merrylegs said:
28 July 2009 @ 15:48

V. interesting article! I will be in the Casares area from December/January, and am looking for good restaurants where dogs are accepted - yes, a dog! I know that generally-speaking dogs are not welcome in restaurants, but ever the optimist, I am sure there are exceptions to the rule. Any suggestions please?

Comanche said:
23 July 2009 @ 15:16

It is happening here on the islands as well

18 July 2009 @ 00:55

I have noticed eateries in the UK Scotland in particular are doing great deals and tourism is up .People are holidaying at home much more and well run good quality B&Bs and restaurants are having their best year ever .I holidayed on the Ayrshire coast last week and ate locally caught fresh fish every day at really good prices with service to match (unusual for Scotland perhaps we have finally learned a good lesson)
I have also eaten out many times the last few month with my teenage daughter ,evening and lunch for less than 25 quid .It is the smart businesses who do good deals that will get the repeat business and survive this recession ,not the rip off merchants .I am visiting Alicante and Mallorca this summer and fully expect to get ripped off .After the two holidays I have taken in the UK this year I almost wish I was staying at home as proprietors finally seem to have caught on to what people need in the current climate ,Fair prices ,good deals and not to be ripped off at every turn . This is what will get people out and about again not the feeling of being done up like a kipper ! MM

davmunster said:
15 July 2009 @ 18:13

Good article although I agree with crostrad that there are still some good value Spanish restaurants. I have a certain amount of sympathy with the bar owners. How do they cope with falling sales? In Fuengirola the standard price for a small draft beer was 1€. Now many (including English owned) places charge 1.40€ presumably the increased profit compensates for the reduction in volume. There are others who still charge 1€ or even 90 or 95c and I hope these places enjoy enough trade this summer to survive.

badgerfish said:
15 July 2009 @ 17:38

I totally agree with you Susan! Prices ARE higher and portions are smaller. And this is related to a period of less than a year ago. I recently had a meal at a chiringuito in Marbella. Nothing fancy, just sat on my own on a plastic chair on the beach. Grilled bream with garlic & salad, and a bottle of lager. 32 Euros! I was even charged 3 Euros for a tiny bread roll which I didn't ask for, or eat...

Previously I would have expected to pay about half that amount! I don't speak Spanish, but I try, and usually the Spanish are very understanding with the English who make the effort. And they are normally very happy to help. The waiter I had, however, seemed quite put out that I couldn't understand him very well, and we ended up talking in a strange mixture of French and English... Things have definitely changed for the worse!

crostrad said:
15 July 2009 @ 16:48

We noticed a couple of weeks ago on a trip out to our place at inland Valencia that 3 or 4 of the restaurants that opened up in town in recent years and charged higher for menu de dia had shut down. The older, more traditional places still let us get away with 22.50 euro for a 3 course lunch for 3 people. The places were packed at each visit--not suprising. But we were told that they might be raising their prices soon.

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