Self-service cafeterias showed one of the steepest declines in value sales due to COVID-19 in 2020. The first impact came during the state of emergency and closures of outlets in the country, as the format of self-service cafeterias means the category is underdeveloped in its ability to be able to effectively switch to takeaway and home-delivery services.
Further challenges to self-service cafeterias came from severe negative impacts on tourism throughout the year. These outlets provide viable options for tourists during peak seasons in sea and mountain resorts, offering fast and affordable cooked meals throughout the day.
Independent outlets dominate self-service cafeterias, with the only chained player being Ikea Romania SRL with its Ikea Restaurant, which holds very small shares in comparison. This chained player was also negatively affected due to the voluntary closures of IKEA stores for two months, followed by takeaway only activity for the chain after the stores reopened from 15 May.
Following the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in 2021, it is expected there will be a return to work at office premises and stronger, more predictable tourism activity over the course of the year (estimated to be from the second half of the year). Consequently, office buildings, residential areas and holiday resorts will again become main destinations for developing businesses in self-service cafeterias, by attracting customers in search of easy and rapid access to cooked food, as an in-demand replacement for home cooking.
Independent self-service cafeterias are expected to continue to dominate over the forecast period, with little chained activity seen, especially in the short-term. Independent outlets offer great convenience for consumers in cities during workdays and in resorts during the holiday periods, and they can accordingly and easily operate as pop-up outlets for areas and periods of time as required.
Whilst independents will, indeed, continue to dominate, chained outlets will also benefit from a gradual return to normality post-pandemic. For example, Ikea will once again welcome retail shoppers into its restaurants, alongside employees from neighbouring office buildings and even residents of the local area who visit purely to eat.
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This report originates from Passport, our Self-Service Cafeterias research and analysis database.
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