PwC Leader: ''Worst Appears to Be Over'' for Lodging

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has updated its U.S. lodging forecast, reflecting a performance during the initial stages of economic recovery and the continued expectation that lodging demand will begin to recover in 2010. While occupancy levels and average daily rates (ADR) in the last quarter of 2009 are expected to remain below levels from one year ago, resulting in a 16.4 percent decrease in room revenue per available room (RevPAR) in 2009, the company expects hotel occupancy rates will increase in 2010. However, 2010 ADR levels are expected to remain below 2009 room rate levels.

"Barring any unforeseen circumstances from an operating perspective, the worst appears to be over," says Scott D. Berman, principal and U.S. industry leader, hospitality and leisure, for PricewaterhouseCoopers. "To what degree the industry experiences recovery is predicated on an improving economy, which facilitates lodging demand growth, and operators' ability to achieve higher pricing."

Lodging demand in the fourth quarter is forecast to be 0.5 percent below last year's levels, resulting in an annual decline of 5.5 percent in 2009. Lodging supply continued to grow in the third quarter of 2009, resulting in an upward revision of PwC's supply growth forecast for this year to 3.2 percent. However, the pace of supply growth peaked at a slower rate in this cycle than during the previous two recessions of 1990-91 and 2001. Despite a deceleration in supply growth, the supply-demand imbalance is expected to compress occupancy levels by 8.4 percent in 2009, resulting in an average annual occupancy level of 55.2 percent. Room rates are expected to continue to be compressed, resulting in an 8.8 percent decline in ADR and a 16.4 percent decrease in RevPAR in 2009.

In 2010, PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasts that a supply growth of 1.4 percent, combined with growing demand, will result in a subtle recovery of hotel occupancy to 55.8 percent, which is seven percentage points below the long-term average of 62.8 percent. Meanwhile, signs of recovery in hotel pricing are not yet evident. It is expected that the steepest declines in ADR have passed, but that year-over-year ADR levels will continue to decline, resulting in a 1.8 percent decline.

PricewaterhouseCoopers' quarterly lodging forecast is based on updated macroeconomic forecasts from Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC. Updated forecasts from Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC expect real gross domestic product to increase 3.5 percent in 2010 relative to 2009.