Hong Kong restaurant owners cautiously optimistic post Covid
Restaurant owners across Hong Kong say they feel cautiously optimistic about business as life begins to return to normal in the territory post Covid-19.
The first Restaurant Confidence Index of 2021, compiled by food-delivery operator Deliveroo, shows that as the city rebounds from the pandemic, local restaurants are now more hopeful about future trading despite having faced challenges of dine-in restrictions and limited operational hours. The survey, in which about 500 restaurateurs participated, shows a lift in sentiment from 20 per cent to 34 per cent during the first quarter of this year.
“I am pleased to see that optimism regarding the future has increased amongst F&B businesses,” said Brian Lo, GM of Deliveroo Hong Kong. “It’s a slow recovery process, however we are pleased that it is heading in this direction”.
Challenges remained, but revenue has grown
More than 40 per cent of restaurants reported increased sales during the first three months, with a median increase of 8 per cent quarter on quarter. At the same time, the number of restaurants recording a loss fell by 10 per cent.
The implementation of social-distancing measures during the key Chinese New Year period caused a decline in the number of dine-in customers, however take-away orders offset that in part, rising 43 per cent.
Changes in operations and HR
The study predicts Hong Kong’s restaurant sector will be more stable this year with the lay-off rates of staff dropping. More than 80 per cent of restaurants say that they won’t reduce staff during the next quarter.
However, restaurant owners are facing other problems, saying labour and operating costs increased during the first quarter, while profits remain unchanged or even decreased. Half of the restaurants surveyed prefer hiring part-time or temporary staff over full-time staff, should they require more employees.
Seeking government support
Since the government eased social-distancing measures, more than half of restaurants surveyed recorded growth in dine-in customers. A number of respondents said they hope to receive one-off allowances, rent relief or wage subsidies from the government.