Sharp eyed readers will have noticed that I am currently in the UK, on a mix of business and pleasure (back soon!).
Currently ensconced in the Cotswolds, I have taken advantage of my free time to have a look around and see how the credit crunch is affecting people.
Well, Cirencester seems fine. Cheltenham Spa has a few shops missing. Gloucester high street looks like we’re four years into the main recession, but on reflection I think it’s always looked like that. Wales seems to be coping all right, with the occasional “black tooth” of an empty Woolies.
However, what has struck me is the catering trade.
I’ve had cause to comment before that it’s difficult now to have a bad pub lunch in the UK. Competition is so fierce that bad pubs either go down the footie route (in which case I avoid them) or close. The current credit crunch seems to be making this even more so. All the food I’ve had so far, the menus I’ve examined, the windows I’ve peered through, all seem to be of well planned, high quality food. And cheap.
On my first night here, I ordered a takeaway pizza over the net. Cost? £9,99, including free garlic bread and free delivery within 20 minutes to my front door. For a large pizza, that means I get breakfast included. Tasty, too. I can’t help comparing it to a recent €11 pizza that I had to drive to Garrucha for. That didn’t have garlic bread included.
A pub lunch for 3? £30. Three main courses, coffee, and a bottle of Australian plonk. The normal price for a 2 course pub lunch around here seems to be £5-£7.
I’m seeing a pint of Ale for £1,95. Lager for £2-2,20. John Smiths for £2,50. Three bottles of mixer (Bacardi Breezers, Smirnoff Ice, etc) for £5.
With the current exchange rate, that’s cheaper than Spain.
So, now that people aren’t getting the cheap booze, why are they going to come to our little corner of paradise? Ah, the sun! The beach!
Hang on…. I just remembered. The Spanish have decided to knock all the chiringuitos down, so you have to walk 500m (usually across busy roads) to get to proper bars and restaurants that make you put a shirt on to get a beer. Unless the mayors cousin is still allowed to run his incredibly expensive beach restaurant. And you can’t take booze to the beach with you. So most people will stay around the hotel pool.
Will they come for the golf? Well, probably, but with the cost of golf being as it is nobody is going to leave the resort.
Nightlife? What nightlife? It’s all closed at 4, drinking in the street is forbidden, hotel and rentals are astronomical in the summer leaving less cash to spend in the bars and you can’t get a taxi. Hopefully Mojacar Ayuntamiento will run the Buho Bus again, but if they can’t even afford to pay their staff bill they may struggle in subsidizing it.
My gut feeling is that unless the local authorities get their acts together, we are looking at the last summer influx of younger tourists this year. Then they’ll be off to wherever Ryanair is flying cheapest to with sun and lax copper. Bulgaria? Morrocco? Who knows?