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Good times boosts Kiwi café culture

The hospitality sector is booming, with more New Zealanders dining out thanks to a buoyant economy, fine summer weather and greater eating choices.

The national Restaurants Association's annual report on the hospitality industry says sales have increased 6.3% to $7.6 billion in 2014 and this figure is forecast to rise in 2015 to $7.9 billion.

Chief executive Marisa Bidois says the industry “is better that it’s been for some time.”

She adds: “It is pleasing to see what looks like the beginning of a strong growth trend. A large number of new restaurants have opened.”

The report details an estimate of a further 251 outlets openings as well as an estimated increase of 2300 employees.

Ms Bidois says a better looking economy and more options have helped the industry thrive.

“The long hot summer, together with an increasingly optimistic economic outlook and more dining choices, has re-invigorated the café and restaurant sector.”

The café and restaurant sectors have been the strongest performers, showing an annual increase of $345.4 million in revenue.

But the takeaway sector has shown a decline in growth for the second year, a trend that potentially indicates more consumers are willing to dine out, Ms Bidois says. 

Labour costs are top of the list of challenges for operators. She says wages have continued to rise beyond customers’ expectations of price rises.

Expectations for the next 12 months also look promising, although the rate of growth is expected to reduced slightly compared with 2014.

Ms Bidois expects Auckland and Christchurch hospitality markets to “dominate the sector’s employment growth” next year, which will see more than 110,000 hospitality employees working in more than 15,000 outlets.

Jason Walls is an AUT journalism student