Updated: Jul 15
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Melbourne’s hospitality sector is expected to continue for some time, with industry leaders predicting more restaurant closures and a shift to suburban locations.
Restaurant & Catering Association chief executive Wes Lambert said the slow return of workers to Melbourne’s CBD continued to harm hospitality businesses but a shift to the suburbs was underway.
He said that there has been an increase in restaurants moving from city locations to suburbs like Fitzroy and Brunswick. He said that in recent weeks there had been an increase in restaurants shifting out of city locations and opening in suburbs such as Fitzroy and Brunswick.
“It’s not just about getting people coming back into the city but getting them coming back into their old haunts,” Mr Lambert said. “What we are seeing is that there has been a large number of closures in the city centre and … we are starting to see new openings [in the suburbs] because they are seeing a lot more foot traffic.”
The City of Melbourne is a significant economic driver for Victoria. It is not just the financial capital of Australia – it is also home to one of the country’s largest business districts, a leading tourist destination, and an attractive residential area.
Unfortunately, in 2019 due to COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting mark on Australia's economy, but it will not be the end of the world.
After the COVID-19 health crisis is over, many assume life will go back to normal again or even roar like the 1990s.
When it comes to food, the image of consumers dumping their sourdough starters and rushing back out to restaurants and bars is palpable. consumers in Australia, many have said they will be buying fresh food and cooking more than they did before the pandemic. While restaurant dining will surely increase from today’s levels, consumers are telling us frequency will remain stunted compared to 2019.
The reasons are clear - people are still recovering from a devastating year when it comes to their wallets and their lives. The global economy may have returned to growth but it remains fragile at best with unemployment still high in most major economies.
This means that for most people there simply isn't much extra cash left over for restaurants or cafes after paying bills and other everyday costs like groceries
A manager at one prominent restaurant, preferring to remain anonymous, says, "I never thought I'd wish for another lockdown. That's how bad it is."
"People have been conditioned for 22 months to worry about case numbers," says Wes Lambert, chief executive of the Restaurant Industry Association. "It is important that the government recognises consumers are voting with their feet and the hospitality industry will continue to need government support until consumer confidence returns."
When the economy is rocky, it can be a little scary for business owners and entrepreneurs to open up shop.
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