Opinion | Still in Battle Mode

As we battle the demands that COVID-19 has brought to our businesses, many concerns that started with the pandemic continue to linger and impact trading.

Labour shortages are crippling businesses and stopping them from gaining traction, cutting operators off at the knees as they work to rebuild customer levels and turnover.

A crippled supply chain and inflation continue to tax restaurant operations and economics. COVID-19 variants persist and prohibit a full-scale customer return to in-house dining due to alert level rules or changing customer behaviours.

Both operators and diners alike are feeling the labour shortage. The pinch point of low staffing numbers means that restaurants cannot accommodate the total number of customers, and the staff shortage also undermines the customer experience. It’s difficult for operators to overcome these challenges and proactively assure profitability.

The labour shortage is the most significant contributor to independent operators closing their businesses as larger chain operators offer more and poach staff. Slashing hours, raising prices and owners working on the line themselves - owner-operators are bearing the heavy toll on their work hours and mental health.

Operators working in the kitchen are doubling down on the effects that COVID-19 challenges are having on their ability to revitalise their business. Working in the kitchen rather than on their business is not a sustainable practice, and we are yet to see the full impact of what this level of disruption will mean to the overall health of the business of hospitality in New Zealand.