Hong Kong restaurant sales plunged 31.2% in the first quarter of this year – the biggest drop on record – as consumers practiced social distancing and the government curbed occupancy.
The significant growth in home delivery of restaurant meals was not enough to stem the dramatic drop in attendance.
According to the Department of Census and Statistics, Hong Kong restaurant sales fell 10.8% in January, as the coronavirus began to affect inbound visitors from mainland China. Sales in February plunged 42.1% and in March by 41.7%.
Restaurant receipts for the full quarter were estimated at HK $ 21.7 billion ($ 2.8 billion), while restaurant purchases fell 29.1% to $ 7 billion.
Chinese restaurants appear to have been hit the hardest, perhaps reflecting the disappearance of tourists from the mainland. Sales for the quarter fell 39.6% in value and 40.9% in volume.
The turnover of non-Chinese restaurants fell 29% in value and 29.9% in volume, while fast food restaurants fell 17.1% in value and 18.2% in volume .
Bars – the most affected by social distancing measures – saw their revenues drop 37.5% in value and 40.8% in volume.
A government spokesperson said that although there have recently been signs of relative improvement in restaurant sales in Hong Kong compared to the previous very austere situation, the business environment for the food industry and Drinks will remain difficult in the short term amid the economic downturn.