Since the beginning of the year, the normal VAT rate of 19 percent has been applied to food in restaurants and cafes. During the coronavirus crisis, the federal government reduced this amount to seven percent. However, restaurateurs did not lower prices at that time, but rather wanted to maintain sales at a low tax rate. With the adjustment, companies have made strong price increases.

Menu prices have risen between almost 50 cents and two euros per dish, and diners also have to dig deeper into their pockets to buy all the drinks. The reasons for this are the increase in energy and personnel costs, but also the increase in commercial prices. At the same time, several breweries increased beer prices and wholesalers increased prices for water, soft drinks and spirits.

But price increases are not without consequences. According to a study by the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DeHoGa), this also caused a loss of sales. Because guests consume less or go out to eat less frequently.

“At the moment, sales are still a little behind the previous year and also behind the comparable year 2019,” says Oliver Kasties, CEO of the hotel and restaurant association Dehoga in Hesse. Guest ordering behavior has become more cautious. And: “For many people, going out to eat has become a 'luxury item' and it seems that this is increasing.” Planned events like birthday parties or family gatherings would be smaller and drinks would also be saved.

FOCUS online asked: How are restaurateurs doing almost three months after the fiscal adjustment?

Older people hardly come anymore, not even at lunch time.

It is no longer possible for retirees and people with low incomes to go out to eat. For a drink, a soup and a main dish, diners have to pay just under 16 euros for the lunch menu. In many cases, the salad costs more.

“Older people, who are also an important group of customers at lunchtime, now come less frequently or almost never,” says Reinhard Fuchs, a restaurant owner in Stuttgart. He is critical of development. “If people who have worked hard all their lives can't afford to go out to eat, then something is wrong in Germany.” But restaurants cannot sell cheaper. Staffing, energy, rents and rising purchase prices leave no room for discounts.

Fuchs observes an important trend. “Very few people order an espresso after lunch,” says Fuchs. Before the guest paid 1.50 euros for it, but today the “short” one costs two euros. The reason? Coffee maker maintenance and machine cleaning tablets have become more expensive, as have coffee beans in the roaster. “Couples share a main dish and order a side dish. Then it is simply dipped in the sauce and shared.”

A saving trend is also emerging among parents with children. “There are families, two adults and two children, who order two portions. The children no longer receive anything of their own,” says Tung Truong, general manager of a café in Scharbeutz (Schleswig-Holstein).

“We no longer give out free liquor”

“People are ordering less and less,” says Eva Schubert, a waitress in Munich. “Almost no one orders a third beer. After the second glass, it's all over, anyway.” Last year was different. “First they look at the prices, then the dish, and then they choose what they like,” said the waitress. There are almost no steaks or plates sold anymore “Escalope costs us 28 euros. I often wonder why people pay that. That's 56 points.”

Sales would also decrease because guests would no longer order appetizers and desserts. That is why the bosses would also put the brakes on austerity. The heaters no longer run at full speed, the bathrooms use cheaper hand soap, and if a light bulb breaks behind the bar, it isn't replaced for a month. “We no longer give out free liquor,” the waitress reveals. “Whoever had a high bill before, always receives it from us.” That is no longer profitable. “Then people would ask for even less.”

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