Sales at full-service restaurants (FSR) went into steep decline in 2020, negatively impacted by measures taken to contain the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Among these restrictions were shutdowns of foodservice outlets or such establishments only being allowed to open for home delivery or takeaway, with such services generally better developed at and suited to channels like limited-service restaurants (LSR). A return to positive growth rates is expected post-pandemic from 2021.
The FSR channel was recording positive value sales growth rates up to 2020 in Asia Pacific. While Japanese sales were stagnating and Hong Kong had seen a decline in 2019 due to the local protests, most other countries, including China, were recording healthy annual sales increases. Asian FSR continued to drive sales in China, the dominant market, although other channels, such as European, were seeing more dynamic growth, thanks to rising interest in exotic cuisines, supported by increased international travel and the influence of the internet.
FSR sales slumped in 2020 as the pandemic hit the region. Among the more damaging measures taken to control the spread of the virus was the closure of foodservice outlets. Even once reopened, social distancing and other safety measures remained in place for eat-in, with FSRs not generally as adept and well-developed as certain other formats in terms of offering home delivery/takeaway.
In China, which accounted for 69% of regional sales in 2020, the extremely fragmented FSR channel is dominated by independent players. The strength of independent operators means that players grouped under “others” account for 98% of sales in China, with no single company holding a value share of even as much as 1%. While chained players generally coped a little better during the pandemic, independent restaurants will continue to dominate FSR in this country.
The post-pandemic period will see Asia Pacific returning to positive growth rates in real value terms, with sales expected to reach 2019 levels again in 2023. Although FSR do not lend themselves as well to take-out as certain other foodservice channels, digitalisation, alongside returning customers, will help to play a role in driving growth over the forecast period.
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