Holiday parties being scaled back this year due to impact of inflation, interest rates

Scaled back holiday parties

Cindy White

Your annual office holiday party could look different this year.

Party planners, venues and the restaurant industry are seeing the impact of inflation changing how companies are celebrating the season.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of people are being very conservative and reflective of how they’re spending money. Some that are renewing their mortgages next year are a little concerned in anticipation of that, so there is some reservation.” said Kelowna Chamber of Commerce executive director Dan Rogers.

“I don’t think businesses are any different than the average consumer. They’re watching their bottom line very closely and really scrutinizing every expenditure.

Instead of sit-down dinners with unlimited drinks, employers are choosing lower-budget options.

“We see that in restaurants too, same trend. People are going out but they’re maybe sharing an appetizer, having a glass of wine. They’re not having a bottle of wine and a full-on meal,” explains Ian Tostenson, president/Ceo of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association.

“The good news is people are out but the sad part of it is that because of the economy, the uncertainty, people aren’t spending per-person like they were in the past,” he adds.

Even if companies are dialling back on drinks and fancy meals, they’re not cancelling holiday fun altogether. Rogers says it’s important to have some kind of party if businesses want to retain employees.

“People are still looking at those holiday celebrations because it’s part of the culture that they’re trying to build. They may not be spending as much money, but they’re still doing that activity. And they’re being creative in how they get their team together and build that culture.”

Bookings are up at the Kelowna Curling Club and one of the reasons could be that it offers an experience.

“What we’re finding is that people are looking for an activity. They’re not just going out for dinner and drinks, they want to curl,” says general manager Jock Tyre.

“People are looking to do something. Not just sit around.”

Tostenson notes that for some restaurants in the Central Okanagan, this holiday season could be make or break because they are depending on strong sales to make up for the lost revenue during the wildfires in August.

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