Confidence among those in the restaurant sector has fallen from +42 (net balance) in January 2021, to +25 recorded in June, due largely to concerns about the slow progress of COVID vaccinations in Australia.
According to the the latest Deliveroo HospoVitality Index Report, only 46 per cent of hospitality businesses say they feel positive about the future of their sector in Australia, a decline from 59 per cent at the start of the year, while 21 per cent feel negative about the future of the sector.
Across the country, 58 per cent of restaurant owners have concerns about the delays to the national vaccination rollout while only 24 per cent feel that the vaccination rollout has so far been adequate. 24 per cent of restaurant owners would like to know a customer’s vaccination status and have the option of not serving them in the event of future outbreaks as 53 per cent say they are to some degree concerned about serving unvaccinated customers.
Against this backdrop, 61 per cent of restaurants expect food delivery will play an even larger role in their business operations than before the pandemic. Among takeaway restaurants, this figure is even higher, with 71 per cent believing that delivery will increasingly become more important to their business model moving forward.
While many restaurants do not see their outlook improving significantly in the very near future, 57 per cent are positive about their prospects a year from now. Staffing would be crucial to the recovery of the restaurant sector, the report noted. However, 59 per cent say the availability of staff is the greatest challenge they face. Government support is also seen as vital in this regard, with restaurant owners saying they would like government support in: the relaxation of border restrictions for skilled foreign workers (51 per cent), support for businesses to offer training and apprenticeships (49 per cent) and greater incentives for young people to undertake skills training (37 per cent).
“This year has been a rollercoaster for the hospitality industry and a clear reminder that the pandemic and its repercussions are far from over,” Ed McManus, CEO of Deliveroo Australia, said. “Central to the sector’s recovery is the success of Australia’s vaccine rollout if we are to continue to avoid snap lockdowns and to eventually open up Australia’s borders.
“Many of the ongoing impacts from COVID-19 disproportionately affect the hospitality industry and the thousands of Australians who work in it,” McManus added. “Encouragingly restaurants across Australia have demonstrated immense resilience and adaptability through this difficult time. COVID has cemented a shift in consumer behaviour towards food delivery with more and more restaurants seeing food delivery as a bright spot in the current operating environment and into the future.”