Signs of Recovery During School Holidays

As Kiwis spent time playing in their own backyards during the recent school holidays there were high hopes for a strong trading period for the battling hospitality industry. A survey conducted by the Restaurant Association has shown signs of improved trading.

64 percent said turnover is the same or better than last year, this is up from 42 percent for the same period last month. 38 percent of respondents traded better or significantly better than the same period last year.

One week into level 1 just 21 percent reported turnover of significantly less than the same period last year and this has now gone down to seven percent. However, 34 percent are now trading worse or significantly worse than the same period last year.

41 percent of businesses are recording 91-100 percent foot traffic based on the same period last year, indicating a lower spend per customer. 42 percent of businesses have had more domestic customers than usual at this time of year.

“Hospitality spending definitely improved over the school holiday period which is a relief for businesses that have had an incredibly difficult year. However, there are still significant numbers of businesses still reporting significantly reduced year on year revenues and we’re mindful that there’s a long road ahead,” said Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois.

“From speaking to members we’re seeing a reduced spend per customer whilst continuing to feel the impact of the border closure.”

The Restaurant Association recently launched its election manifesto, detailing five key areas of focus for the recovery of the industry.

“The hospitality industry contributes $11 billion to the economy, making it one of New Zealand’s largest industries. Despite being an enduring powerhouse of the New Zealand economy, policy made for the sector, in particular for hospitality, is fragmented, impractical and often devoid of the everyday realities of operations,” expressed Bidois.

“Sadly, our industry’s strong growth story has been decimated by COVID-19 leading us to five key priorities to best support the recovery of our sector and ensure government policy matches the realities of everyday hospitality operations.”

Bidois pointed out that despite the enormous contribution the hospitality industry makes to the economy it is still lacking its own dedicated ministry. The Restaurant Association is calling on the government for greater recognition and better oversight in the form of a dedicated Minister and hospitality unit within the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.

“For a sector that generated annual sales in excess of $11 billion and employed more than 133,000 people in 2019, to not have a dedicated Minister to call on for support, means that Government policy regularly misses the mark when considering the realities of our sector,” noted Bidois.

“This became increasingly problematic throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response. We are also seeking greater acknowledgement from the next Government for the significant role that hospitality plays in the tourist experience.”

“Every single visitor to New Zealand consumes our food, and every aspect of the New Zealand food story - from production to tourism - could recognise the importance of connecting with the people who eat our food. As we navigate no tourists for the foreseeable future, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to apply the hard-won gains of our 100% pure reputation to our food industry, repositioning the story of New Zealand’s food experience and better promote the depth and diversity of dining experiences.”

Bidois went on to explain that this will also create the halo effect of developing pride in the Kiwi hospitality story and encourage more job seekers to view hospitality as an employment pathway for life. The hospitality sector is a core component of the New Zealand lifestyle; however, appetites are changing. We are seeing a rise in conscious consumerism: where customers are driven not by prices or flavours alone, but the origins of their food.

“Finally, we would like to see the next government examine and refine hospitality’s regulatory environment. Increasing complexity around rules and regulations is making it difficult for local businesses to grow and provide job opportunities. Regulatory changes over the past three years have weighed heavily on hospitality so we are calling for a government-wide review of hospitality regulations at a national and local level and consider ‘best practice’ standardisation where appropriate” concluded Bidois.

The full manifesto is available for download via the Restaurant Association website.