Restaurant owners optimistic about 2021

20th January 2021 | Eativity editors

Restaurant sector confidence has grown going into the new year, according to the latest Deliveroo HospoVitality Index Report. Overall, more than half of all restaurant owners surveyed said they felt positive about their own business prospects.

Businesses are also more confident for the longer term, with a higher score for 12 months’ time compared to three months from now. But regardless of the optimism, restaurants are clear that challenges remain, with concerns for the state of the national economy (57%), produce prices (53%) and lower consumer spending (47%) topping the list of worries.

Ready and waiting: restaurants are mostly feeling confident about the year ahead.

The survey, conducted by YouGov, revealed workforce structure will be critical to success in 2021, with more than eight in 10 restaurant owners saying they plan to hire more staff in the year ahead, indicating early signs of a comeback for the sector. This shows significant progress from six months earlier when it was revealed more than three quarters of restaurant owners were forced to employ fewer staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hiring and building a strong workforce is a major focus for 2021. Most restaurants intend to hire casual staff (59%), while four in 10 said they’ll hire both full- or part-time staff.

Government support is still important, with two thirds planning to employ at least one additional staff member using the new JobMaker scheme. The sector was impacted by many valuable migrant workers being forced to return home when international borders closed. Seemingly in response to this, more than a third of restaurants will look to build out their team with more staff on skilled or migrant visas.

Many restaurants plan to hire new staff, but government support is still needed.

Restaurant owners also say they’d like government support in a number of other areas to aid their recovery. The most important include mandated rent reductions, an extension to JobKeeper, an increase to indoor seating numbers and subsidised dine-in vouchers.

Other signs of recovery are also expected to take shape, with 43 percent of restaurants planning to expand their business in the next 12 months. Half of all large restaurants expect to expand, but smaller restaurants are more cautious, with only a third confident of expansion in 2021, while just over half are not.

As restaurants focus on a stronger 2021, the majority said they believe delivery would play a larger role than ever before. Almost half of all restaurants said delivery had increased by an average of one third as a proportion of their business in 2020.