Report shows ‘irreversibly changed’ ho...

Report shows ‘irreversibly changed’ hospitality industry

Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) has released its R&CA 2021 Benchmarking Report, which shows COVID-19 has ‘irreversibly changed’ the hospitality industry and how Australians buy—and sell—food.

The 2021 Benchmarking Survey was distributed to over 15,000 individual restaurant, cafe and catering business owners and senior managers across Australia, with the second highest response rate of individual businesses completing the survey. The Survey was open during September, October and November of 2021 and contained 88 questions relating to the 2020-21 financial year.

The survey monitors key trends in business costs, profitability, labour and skills shortages, as well as the general business environment. The survey is distributed to restaurant, café and catering business owners and senior managers across Australia.

R&CA CEO Wes Lambert said that since its first issue in 2008, R&CA’s Benchmarking Report has aimed to present an accurate view of where the industry is and what challenges lie ahead and shows as a snapshot of an industry that is under significant pressure due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“While the years of lockdown may well be past us now, 2021 presented new and difficult challenges which saw an increased reliance on takeaway, wage costs increases and the current staffing crisis,” Mr Lambert said.

“What we’re seeing in this report is that across Australia, the hospitality industry has been crippled due to skill shortages. While consumer confidence briefly rose prior to the Omicron variant and menu prices steadily rose, this lack of staff readily available made reopening incredibly hard.

“However, many operators have seen the current crisis as an opportunity to pivot their businesses to not only survive the effects of the pandemic but to create more resilient business models to thrive in 2022.”

Key Findings

  • Skills shortages continue to be the biggest problems facing the industry. Whilst business operators are less concerned about a lack of patrons coming from overseas and interstate, the lack of workers entering Australia has been absolutely devastating. This indicates that whilst menu prices and consumer demand has gone up, the ability to service this increase with staff has left many operators struggling.
  • The reliance on takeaway during the COVID-19 lockdowns has irreversibly changed the way that Australians purchase food and the way that operators sell it. The 2021 Survey shows that whilst many businesses moved to delivery platforms and takeaway due to COVID-19 lockdowns initially, many are now seeing it as a permanent addition to their revenue stream, especially for the sale of takeaway alcohol beverages with a meal.
  • While food and occupancy costs have dropped slightly from last year’s survey as a percentage of revenue this is highly likely due to menu price increases rather than those costs decreasing in dollar terms, and the cost of wages and keeping people employed has increased at the time of this survey with a further increase broadcasted for next year.
  • Following reforms to the Restaurant Industry Award and the Hospitality Industry (General) Award in September 2021, just under half of the entire industry had already implemented the changes.
  • With COVID-19 lockdowns shutting down most of the industry, most jurisdictions implemented temporary laws allowing takeaway alcohol to be sold from restaurants and cafes. 37.9 percent of restaurants and cafes had made use of these temporary laws to sell takeaway alcoholic beverages, which the majority of respondents indicating that their bottom line would improve if allowed to continue to do so.

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