(The Center Square) – After the COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s subsequent executive orders hindered economic growth for the hospitality industry in 2020 and 2021, officials from the Illinois Restaurant Association and the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association say they are now dealing with another problem, inflation.
Illinois’ hospitality industry took a hit in 2020. Hotel and lodging saw their revenue dip by 44%, and the restaurant industry saw a 45% dip.
Mike Jacobson of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association said hotels are paying extra for the things they need.
“All the costs associated with staying in a hotel have gone up,” Jacobson said. “Labor, cost of supplies, electricity, like all Americans are experiencing, the price of everything has gone up.”
Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said restaurants are also having a difficult time adjusting to inflation.
“With inflation being double digits, we are seeing beef, pork, poultry, all up double digits from a year ago,” Toia said. “Restaurants can not raise their prices as quick as inflation is going up.”
Jacobson said that overall the hotel and lodging industry has started to see an increase in visitors compared to the past two years, but inflation is changing how much visitors will have to pay.
“Our average daily rates right now are over $300 a night for the first time since the pandemic,” Jacobson said. “So that’s really where you are starting to see the impact of inflation.”
Toia said that while their sales are up since the pandemic, inflation is hurting their profits.
“So obviously we are getting back to normalcy but a labor shortage and inflation are really hurting the industry right now,” said Toia. “We are starting to see our sales come back to 2019 levels, but we are not seeing that bottom line.”
The state’s budget that begins July 1 sets aside $75 million in federal tax funds for a hotel jobs recovery program and an additional $50 million for a restaurant employment and stabilization grant program.