RESEARCH | Staff Reporter, Australia

Seven in ten restaurants adopted new revenue streams amidst pandemic: report

Restaurants are looking for new ways to thrive.

Seventy four percent of Australia’s restaurants that have remained open and operating in some capacity adopted new revenue streams such as takeaway, delivery, ready to cook meals and adding alcohol options, Deliveroo’s inaugural HospoVitality Index Report revealed.

More than four in five (82%) restaurant owners who stayed open during the COVID-19 lockdowns adopted new ways of working, including new processes, systems, or technology.

In terms of how restaurants navigated the national lockdowns, 48% of restaurant owners introduced new staffing and shift patterns, 42% optimised their menus whilst a quarter (25%) made point of sale changes.

Nine in ten (91%) of Australia's restaurants stayed open and operating in some capacity. Of the restaurants that introduced new ways of making money, 90% said they would maintain some or all of these revenue streams into the future, with takeaway (57%) and food delivery (55%) being the most popular channels.

Looking ahead, technological advancements in digital ordering and in-store collection processes are the most needed (45%), followed by improved data insights to manage marketing (20%) and developments in advanced online bookings (18%).

The report, conducted with research firm YouGov, surveyed more than 500 restaurant owners across Australia to understand business confidence, challenges, their response to the pandemic, what government policy initiatives will help aid recovery and their plans for the future.

“These businesses have used their creativity and innovative thinking to pivot to new revenue streams and adopted new ways of working, however the Report found a sector uncertain about their immediate prospects. Restaurant owners believe it will get worse before it gets better,” Deliveroo Australia CEO Ed McManus.

In terms of business prospects at present, nearly four in ten (39%) are feeling positive whilst 26% are concerned. 30% are positive about their prospects in three months’ time and more than a third (36%) are worried.

One in five (21%) of all restaurant owners were uncertain about what stage they would be able to trade profitably and be viable within the Federal Government’s three-step framework. However, more than half (52%) of restaurant owners are optimistic about their own business prospects in 12 months’ time and only 15% are concerned.

Four in ten (39%) of all restaurant owners surveyed are feeling positive about the future of the hospitality sector, compared with 30% who are feeling pessimistic.

Asked about the greatest challenges impacting business confidence, 68% cited slowing down of the economy and reduced dine-in capacity, followed by a reduction in consumer spending (64%) and produce prices increasing (60%).

Government assistance during the pandemic has been vital, with two thirds (65%) of restaurant owners accessing JobKeeper. Of these restaurants, 44% said they would not have been able to keep trading had JobKeeper not been available, equal to those who said they would have. 66% of restaurant owners also sought rental relief from their landlords during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Ranking government policies they felt were most important in aiding their recovery, tax relief was the overwhelming priority (79%), followed by payroll tax (49%) and penalty rates (43%), while more than a quarter (29%) are keen to see a relaxation of regulations for outdoor seating.

The Deliveroo HospoVitality Index will be produced biannually as a recurring benchmark for the hospitality sector, the platform said.

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