Cafes expect long road to recovery

2nd July 2020 | Eativity editors

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says new figures show that many of our cafe owners are predicting a long road to recovery, highlighting the need for additional support and, in some cases, compensation.

According to the Harris Cafe Report, 80 percent of small business owners in the hospitality industry – the majority of which are cafe owners – have said they won’t be able to recover from recent hardships without third party assistance.

Carnell says it’s clear from the report that cafes have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 restrictions: “It’s incredibly tough to be in small business right now and particularly if you happen to own a cafe,” she says.

Our once thriving cafe culture has been dealt a heavy blow.

More than 40 percent of respondents surveyed for the report said they don’t expect to be able to stay open for longer than six months without additional support. More than half say they’ve lost 50 percent or more of their revenue over the past few months.

“What it tells us is there will be a prolonged period before these small business owners are back on their feet,” Carnell says.

While JobKeeper has been effective in keeping many of these businesses afloat, it’s likely that some additional targeted support will be required to help these once-viable cafes get to the other side of this difficult time.

Many cafes are now back in business, but some could not survive another lockdown.

“We know that outbreaks will happen during this pandemic and that this will mean localised lockdowns,” Carnell says. “We’ve now seen that happen in parts of Victoria, with small businesses impacted.

“In cases like this, where cafes have been forced to throw out stock due to a sudden lockdown, compensation should be made available to them.”

Although it’s possible that outbreaks will happen and this will impact small businesses in affected areas, it’s also impossible for a cafe owner to plan ahead for such an event. Stock will be lost, and for small businesses that are already seriously cash-strapped, there’s a real risk an event like this could break them.

“Australia has a vibrant cafe culture,” Carnell says “For that to continue, it’s critical these small businesses have the support they need to grow and thrive.”

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