“In the last month, the prospects of tourism, commerce and public businesses have radically changed. And if autumn had been characterized by a gradual recovery, albeit slow and tiring, the arrival of winter unfortunately marked a clear reversal of the negative trend: between fear, smartworking and restrictions, the increase in infections has led to a ‘de facto lockdown’, even if never declared, which sank the turnover of the activities of the three sectors “. The alarm was raised by Confesercenti.
Fear holds back household spending
The worsening of the pandemic has had a general impact on the consumption patterns of Italians. The costs are mainly public businesses, commerce and tourism: 51% of consumers declare that they avoid using bars or restaurants, or in any case that they have reduced the number of public businesses and clubs. 32% – one in three Italians – has instead given up on a trip or has canceled a holiday already booked.
An identical share – again 32% – avoided or reduced purchases in stores for fear of crowds. This is also confirmed by the trend of the end-of-season sales that have just started: sales have slowed to almost stop, and it is estimated that about one million customers have already given up shopping for fear of infections. And even those who do the same adopt more prudent behavior: 25% do not enter the shops if they see too many people, and prefer to queue outside the points of sale.
Smart working and public businesses
The increase in infections has led private sector companies to increase again the number of employees in smart working: according to a survey conducted by Ipsos for Confesercenti, 48% of employees in the private sector are already in smart working or plan to return soon . A share of about 5.5 million workers – of which one million (15%) for the first time. A mass “stay-at-home” that will have a strong impact on public establishments in city centers and office districts, which we estimate at 850 million euros per month of lower consumption.
Tourism and events
The negative impact of the stop travel is warned by all sectors of tourism and events, by travel agencies – stopped for almost two years now – to tourist transport, passing through guides and companions. In the last month, however, the hospitality sector has also returned to crisis, particularly in the large cities of historical and artistic interest: hotels with an average occupancy rate of less than 30% of the rooms. The average occupancy rate is 25%, the loss of turnover between 70 and 80%, and a further reduction is expected due to the continuous cancellations of congresses and meetings. A difficult situation also shared by other tourist destinations, to which is added the increase in business costs, due to the rush of energy tariffs.
“The forecast framework that was envisaged with the Budget Law has radically changed: the increase in infections has created a climate of mistrust that is holding back household consumption”, Comments Confesercenti. “A problem above all for small and very small Italian enterprises in the tourism, catering, trade and services sectors. Thus there is a risk of putting an end to the recovery: in this context it is not enough ‘not to exclude’ the hypothesis of new support, it is necessary to intervene as soon as possible, with adequate measures to protect the activity and work of the affected companies, starting from the extension of the COVID social safety nets and the exemption from the payment of the single fee for commercial activities at least until 30 June 2022. But it is also necessary to give continuity to the credit measures provided for by the Liquidity Decree, which has made about 169 companies available billions of euros in funding. The Council of Ministers should act immediately, the climate of uncertainty requires congruous and urgent interventions “.