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British Columbians spending less on holiday outings, restaurants remain booked

Holiday dinners, office parties, and restaurant outings become a regular thing this time of year, but the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association thinks those may feel a little different this time around.

President and CEO Ian Tostenson says a lot of companies seem to be in favour of choosing cheaper options like stand-up gatherings and cocktail receptions instead of sit-down dinners.

“You’re seeing companies that are operating just like individuals … there’s a lot of concern about interest rates and cash and business and spending, so I think everybody’s been a little bit conservative here and trying to say, ‘look, let’s, let’s see, we can have fun, maybe do it a different way,'” he said. “Companies want to do office parties, they’ve just been very innovative about it.”

“Sometimes people just don’t want to go out and get all fancied up and have to spend a lot of money getting dressed up, so companies recognize their employees want to have a little bit of a break and have some fun together.”

As for dinners with friends, families, or significant others, Tostensen says people are still going out — they’re just looking to spend a little bit less.

“People are going out, they’re excited about going out, there’s a lot of opportunities to get out,” he said, noting they’re often finding ways to save like sharing appetizers or a bottle of wine.

While he feels larger and more popular restaurants will fare well and keep their tables full, Tostenson says he is a little bit worried about smaller family-run establishments.

“Hopefully people can, in their neighborhoods, support those independent restaurants … even if they don’t go to the restaurant, just buying a gift card and giving it away as a Christmas gift really has great effects and will help,” he said.

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