Self-service cafeterias sees deep negative impacts from COVID-19, compounded by the fact that the category was already in decline before the events of 2020. As seen with all foodservice outlets, self-service cafeterias also had to close for approximately three months during the first lockdown and already two months during the second lockdown (until further notice).
Despite very accessible prices for families and generous offerings (for example, all-you-can-eat starters and/or vegetable buffets), self-service cafeterias were already said to still lag several steps behind the last developments in consumer foodservice in France. As noted, the event of COVID-19 has placed further downwards pressure on the concept, with fewer opportunities to rebalance any losses when compared to other foodservice categories.
Self-service cafeterias has the most concentrated competitive landscape, which coincides with the environment of stores and chained outlets closed to hypermarkets and malls. In September 2020, leading player Flunch (from Agapes Restauration SA) declared a loss of nearly 50% from early 2020 to August of the same year.
One of the main threats for hypermarkets (and therefore self-service cafeterias) could be their close relation to and dependence on commercial centres. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue to speed up disaffection for hypermarkets, which is already becoming an outdated format due to changing consumer demand and lifestyles in France, representing a symbol of consumption, whilst de-consumerism is becoming increasingly strong.
The saying “One Man’s Failure is Another Man's Success” is also apt in this context. Against the apparent disaffection for hypermarkets, and particularly so during the time of COVID-19, modern grocery retailers such as Carrefour accelerated the reduction of their sales space and exploited the remaining area by proposing new services, pop-up shops, and relaxation areas where customers could also enjoy snacking and tasting experiences.
There are, however, some opportunistic projects within self-service cafeterias. For example, organic food specialists such as BioCoop, L’Eau Vive and the like have already been growing and investing in hybrid concepts between home delivery/takeaway, limited-service restaurants and self-service cafeterias.
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This report originates from Passport, our Self-Service Cafeterias research and analysis database.
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