Posted by Julie Day on June 28, 2016

If you’re ever stuck in a country desperate for something to drink, it would be best if that country was Spain. It’s rare for any village, no matter how small, not to have a local bar.

Despite the fact that around 30,000 watering holes went out of business during the economic crisis, Spain is still the country with the greatest number of bars per person in the world: one for every 175 people. And, no other country dethroned Spain from this position, even when the recession was at its worst.

More bars closed in 2014 than any other year during the economic crisis, however, just a year later, in 2015, the number of new bars being opened began to exceed the number that had to be closed.

According to the latest figures from the Nielsen consultancy, this year will be a positive one for the bar and restaurant sector, with a 2% rise in the number of new establishments.

Nevertheless, while going for a drink in a bar is a popular pastime in this country, the habits of the typical customer have evolved. These days, it is more common to go for an evening drink a lot earlier than before – in line with other European countries – and establishments that belong to a franchise have become a popular choice.

Instead of heading off to the bar after the late evening meal, many are choosing to do this now straight after work and before dinner, hence the earlier drinking hours. Studies have shown that taking a stronger alcoholic beverage has gone up 7% at the time when people would traditionally drink coffee.

What is more, the Spanish have become more hedonistic and less loyal, as they now opt to try out new locations and experiences rather than stick to the local bar on the corner.

Last year the number of cafeterias grew by 0.1% and this year the figure is expected to rise 1.5%. The number of establishments that are open later on in the day and at night, on the other hand, was reduced by 2.5% last year, and will probably drop by a further 2.8% this year.

While much of this has to do with the fact that we are going out earlier than before, bars are also finding it less easy to obtain late licenses.

In Spain there are around 244,000 traditional bars and a growing number of organised establishments or franchises (7,416). In addition, there is also a new trend of locals that only open during the summer or hot months.

People these days want to try something different and are always on the lookout for new experiences, which is why the bar and restaurant trade is diversifying in order to satisfy new demands.

The Internet is so important to which places we visit nowadays, as often we tend to frequent establishments that have had high ratings online, or which offer promotions and discounts on the Internet.

And, as well as everywhere else, Spain’s bars and cafeterias have to move with the times. Now, many are offering breakfast, smoothies, vegetarian and vegan food, non-gluten products, specialised gins, cocktails and artisan beer.

Nevertheless, while the face of Spain’s bar and restaurant trade is in the process of changing, there are two classics that continue to hold key roles: beer and coffee – and it looks like this won’t change for a good while.



  • Spain
  • bars
  • hostelry
  • beer
  • cafeteria


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