Given the unique aspects of the self-service format and the types of places they tend to be found, including in corporate work environments and in retail locations, self-service cafeterias was particularly negatively affected by the government-imposed restrictions on dine-in service. In cases where the self-service cafeteria is only a complementary service to another more central concept, such as the cafeterias run exclusively in certain major retail chains, including IKEA or Karstadt, these foodservice offerings were typically shut altogether, forcing those retailers to rely on the sale of retail goods for revenue in 2020.
Vapiano, one of Germany’s largest domestic chains, has suffered years of sales stagnation, which culminated in insolvency proceedings and new ownership in 2020. Vapiano’s new owner, Gastro & Soul, closed dozens of outlets and accelerated changes to both menu offerings and in-store operations, consolidating resources around a smaller number of higher-performing stores in good locations.
For years, many of Germany’s largest retail chains, ranging from department stores such as Karstadt to furniture retailers such as IKEA or Höffner, have offered on-site foodservice to both attract consumers with a well-rounded shopping experience, and to encourage shoppers to remain in the store longer in the hope of increasing the overall size of their basket. In 2020, COVID-19 restrictions forced non-essential retailers to close during two lockdown periods, one in the spring during the first wave of cases and then again in late 2020 during subsequent waves of infection.
In the past few years, the rise of online shopping and digital marketplaces such as Amazon.de in Germany had a deep impact on bricks-and-mortar retail places, and consequently, the self-service cafeterias in these places which depend on foot traffic.
Despite having to cease its foodservice operations for most of 2020, the pandemic and government restrictions are unlikely to have any long-term negative impact on IKEA’s foodservice operations. Indeed, whilst the company’s self-service cafeteria remained closed, IKEA still sold food products in the food market section that is common to all standard IKEA outlets.
Another cornerstone of the self-service cafeterias channel in Germany, especially in independent self-service cafeterias, includes outlets in corporate work environments and other institutional locations where these restaurants are also open to the public, and therefore counted in consumer foodservice data. These outlets are often located in corporate campuses away from dense urban areas and so lack independent foot traffic from passers-by.
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This report originates from Passport, our Self-Service Cafeterias research and analysis database.
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