The “expensive beach umbrella”? Blame inflation and (increased) personnel costs

It’s easy to say expensive beach umbrella. But what’s really behind it? Speculation in some cases, but in addition to the “smart guys” there are real motivations in the majority of cases. Word of Manuel Dallori founder of the brand The Beach Luxury Club: “This year we had a 20% increase in expenses and it had been12% in 2023. We have not changed the price lists, but the costs for the sector are undoubtedly constantly growing”. More expenses, therefore, which often explain that 4% increase on the beach umbrella bill for Italians this summer, after the +10% of 2022 and the +5% of 2023 (Altroconsumo data). But what are the costs that beach entrepreneurs have seen rise and change and what are the reasons that push them to intervene on the price lists?

The first reason for the price increases, reported by all entrepreneurs in the sector, is the increase in the cost of raw materials. Especially with regard to catering. Inflation on food has weighed heavily and still does today. Then there is the issue of electricity. “An expense that has risen to 50 thousand euros for a facility like ours. Not only for catering, but also for the services offered. An example? Two towels per person for each umbrella or gazebo and the tablecloths on the tables mean thousands of euros for their washing. The cost of electricity in recent years from this point of view has been felt heavily”, explains the entrepreneur. Then there is the issue of marine erosion that affects and explains the price increases.

“Where there were 100 sunbeds or gazebos, now there are 80 – continues Dallori – On the Lazio coast (Ostia and Frigene) for example, entrepreneurs count hundreds and hundreds of cabins and square meters of beach devoured over the years. Translated: less takings, less margin”.

And then we come to the motivation “services and personnel”. In an increasingly competitive and aggressive market and where customers want more and more services, more workers are needed.

“Being open from morning to night and offering services requires more staff, qualified. And this is lacking in Italy, as abroad. To hire them and guarantee them over time, salaries and bonuses are obviously needed. Entrepreneurs pay for the lack of workers. And then there is the bureaucracy, increasingly complex and therefore expensive. Once upon a time, a company with ten/fifteen people could have an internal accountant. Now it is no longer possible. You need to have an organization and managerial figures in the office to follow regulations, procedures, administrative management. And this is also an expense for the beach entrepreneur”, continues Dallori, who estimates a 20% increase in expenses in the last year.

There are also management costs to add. Many emphasize how the beach must be cleaned, even in winter, and maintained to be liveable during the summer season. And finally, here we are with beach concessions. Prices are fixed but the question is open and the fear of what will happen (new tenders and costs, etc.) has pushed some entrepreneurs to take preventive action, increasing prices for this year. “This vision has been there, in some cases. Just as I have seen establishments that have adjusted prices upwards without adding services, but rather cutting them. This is just speculation”, concludes the founder of The Beach Luxury Club.
All this explains, in part, the increase of around 4% for Italians going to the seaside this year.