Growing pains

Statistics shows people are dining out more often than ever—if only profitability would keep pace!

The recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)-reported turnover figures showed that the restaurant, café and catering industry is in great shape—at least as far as turnover is concerned. The August result was turnover of $1,587 million, which was 19.3 per cent up on August 2009. This is an astounding result. In comparison the ‘all of retail’ result was a 0.5 per cent increase in trade, seasonally adjusted. This shows that consumers are eating out more than ever. Association estimates are that Australian consumers are now eating out between 2.3 and 2.5 times a week which is an extra dining occasion each week against seven years ago.

The increase appears to be due to the aging population. Older demographic groups eat out in restaurants more often, so as the population ages, restaurant patronage increases. The mean age of the population is set to increase for another five years, so the underlying growth should continue until 2015 at least.

If only levels of profitability were rising at the same rate. R&C estimates are that net profit for the average restaurant is now around 2.8 per cent. Whilst revenues will continue to grow through to 2015, wage costs will too! Unless something changes, we will have an industry in the future that consumers demand and operators view as all too hard.

Peter Doyle
President, Restaurant & Catering

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