Representative public survey: Majority of Germans fear for further decline of restaurants in case of return to 19% VAT

25 September 2023

Current population survey outlines consequences of a VAT increase for gastronomy and its importance for city centres and society

  • Current survey outlines consequences of a VAT increase for the food gastronomy from a public point of view

  • At the same time, the survey underpins the great importance of gas-tronomy for attractive city centres and social interaction

74%, and thus almost three quarters of the people in Germany, fear a further decline in the gastronomy sector in the event of a return to 19% VAT on food in restaurants, pubs and cafés. At the same time, around 90% emphasise the great importance of gastronomy for attractive city centres and a lively society. Accordingly, the vast majority of Germans, over 80%, are in favour of retaining the reduced VAT rate of 7% on food in restaurants. Should the VAT nevertheless be restored to 19%, more than half of the respondents (59%) would not be willing or able to pay more money for eating out. This would put further pressure on the revenues or margins of the gastronomy sector. This is the result of a representative survey conducted by the opinion research institute Civey on behalf of METRO AG, which asked around 10,000 German citizens in August 2023 about the current situation in the gastronomy sector.

"The study shows: Germans value gastronomy and at the same time are very worried that more and more businesses will have to close due to economic pressure. The industry has reached the breaking point due to massive inflation in food, energy prices and wages - and many citizens can no longer afford, or do not want further price increases when going out to eat. A return to 19% VAT would not only be a blow to the heart of the culinary industry, which employs almost 2 million people in Germany and which politicians just about saved during the pandemic. It would also be a blow to the heart of our city centres and rural areas, because with gastronomy valuable places of exchange and interaction are also disappearing", said Dr Steffen Greubel, CEO of METRO AG. "At the same time, this would cement the unequal tax treatment in foodservice - because delivery services and take-aways continue to be taxed at only 7%, and in almost all neighbouring European countries foodservice is taxed equally. This special German approach is incomprehensible and creates clear false incentives. That is why we are in favour of permanently retaining the reduced VAT rate for food gastronomy."

The results in detail:

Almost three-quarters (74%) and thus the vast majority of the population are concerned that there will be fewer gastronomy businesses in the future than there are today due to economic pressure; 18.9% are not concerned and 7.1% are undecided. Saxony (82.1%), Thuringia (81.8%), Saxony-Anhalt (77.4%) and Baden-Württemberg (76.7%) are the states with the highest agreement levels. The age groups with the greatest concern are those aged 50-60 (76.2%) and 30-39 (74.9%); purchasing power plays no role here.

The absolute majority (91.9%) of Germans think that gastronomy plays a very important or important role for attractive city centres and regions, only 4.2% do not think so and 3.9% of respondents are undecided. The agreement levels in the 16 federal states are uniformly high, led by Bavaria (93.9%). All age groups agree. Moreover, the agreement levels are irrespective of marital status (single, married or divorced) and of occupational status and purchasing power.

Likewise, 89.3% of people think that gastronomy plays a very important or important role for a lively society; 5.4% think that gastronomy rather does not contribute to this and 5.3% have no clear position. Eastern Germany, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg lead the way among supporters with approval rates of around 90%; among the age groups, the strongest agreement comes from the 55 Plus age group.

A clear majority (81.8%) of respondents believe that the reduced VAT rate of 7% on food in restaurants should be maintained, 11.4% are against and 6.8% are undecided. The highest agreement levels come from Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt with almost 90%; married and divorced people are more likely to agree than singles.

At the same time, more than half of the respondents (59.3%) would not or rather not be prepared to pay more for eating out if VAT were to be increased again; 27.4% would definitely or rather pay more, 13.3% are undecided on the question. Across Germany, respondents in Saxony are the least willing (72.2%) to spend more money, and 18-29 year-olds in particular are reluctant to pay more (64.9%). Women (62.9%) are also less willing to pay more than men.

About the survey: Civey surveyed 10,000 German citizens aged 18 and over online for METRO AG in August 2023. The results are representative due to quotations and weightings, taking into account the statistical error of 2.5 (overall result). All data were collected in Civey's own panel with verified participants. Results at the federal level are weighted according to official population data. Regional earnings below the federal level are also weighted according to official population data and are additionally modelled in combination with a comprehensive regional variable set down to the county level using so-called small area methods.

Civey survey Gastronomy Federation & Regions (German)
Civey survey Gastronomy Federation & Regions (German)

METRO is a leading international food wholesaler which specialises in serving the needs of hotels, restaurants, and caterers (HoReCa) as well as independent merchants (Traders). Around the world, METRO has approx. 17 million customers who benefit from the wholesale company’s unique multichannel mix: customers can purchase their goods in one of the large stores in their area as well as by delivery (Food Service Distribution, FSD) – all digitally supported and connected. In parallel, METRO MARKETS is being developed as an international online marketplace for the needs of professional customers which has been growing and expanding continuously since 2019. Acting sustainably is one of the company principles of METRO which has been listed in various sustainability indices and rankings for many years, including FTSE4Good, MSCI and CDP. METRO operates in more than 30 countries and employs over 93,000 people worldwide. In financial year 2021/22, METRO generated sales of €29.8 billion. More information can be found at, our online magazine.