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Office parties take a hit due to inflation

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The inflation and a difficult economic situation have forced several companies to reduce their budget allocated to the celebrations, to the detriment of several industries. (Archive photo)

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Event planners and caterers in British Columbia are finding that office parties are much smaller this year, partly because of inflation eating into budgets.

December is usually a time of year when companies throw office parties for their employees. This year, the gatherings are more austere.

I see my long-time clients reducing their budgets by 50% or more. That's unheard of in 35 years of career and several recessions, notes Sharon Bonner, CEO and founder of Bright Ideas Events in Vancouver, a company that organizes corporate events.

For me, it's confirmed that we are in a recession.

A quote from Sharon Bonner, CEO of Bright Ideas Events

Restaurants tend to be the barometer of society in many ways, and right now, we're not in good health, notes Ian Tostenson, president and Executive Director of the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservice Association.

One fact remains: People still have the desire to gather and celebrate the holiday season, but they are doing so on a much smaller budget.

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For Vancouver resident Zarina, the budgeting approach to the holiday season is clear. We close the doors to all purchases. It’s very difficult, explains the mother of three.

At work, his employer is planning an office party, but with the participation of the employees: We paid for our meal, you have to pay to celebrate together, she explains.

People and businesses are more modest, more economical, says Ian Tostenson. They will buy a starter and a glass of wine instead of having the full meal with the bottle, he explains.

An observation shared by Sharon Bonner. His company, Bright Ideas Events, specializes in organizing themed events involving setting up settings, such as transforming an airport hangar into a tropical island. This year, the efforts devoted to the arrangements will be simple since everything is completely cut off, she says. Food, drinks and maybe a DJ. That's all!

Several companies want to avoid being too ostentatious in their spending, even if their budget allows it. They want to make sure they're seen in the right context, says Ian Tostenson.

Bonner says a client refused to put chair covers on for a banquet, even though his budget allowed, because he didn't want to appear wasteful by spending extra money on chairs.

The expenses associated with what constitutes part of the finishing touches are now examined and scrutinized in detail, notes Sharon Bonner. To adjust to the situation, she chose to create an events consulting business. This less expensive option is more popular this year.

Despite everything, Ian Tostenson and Sharon Bonner remain optimistic for the future of their respective industries. Both believe that by spring, things should start to return to normal.

People will always find a reason to celebrate, they think Sharon Bonner.

We are an extremely adaptable and entrepreneurial industry, restaurants are not new, notes Ian Tostenson. We will survive, even if it is in different forms.

According to him, one of the ways to achieve this is to support small businesses local areas, which are suffering the repercussions of these periods of austerity.

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