Tough winter for restaurants
It has been a tough winter for restaurants and cafes as New Zealanders are dining out less often and cutting spending when they do.
Restaurant Association records show restaurant numbers have grown by more than 1.2% over the last year.
But chief executive Marisa Bidois says many are finding it hard to make survive as soaring food costs are squeezing profits and the "daily deal" phenomena is driving the takings down.
And Kiwi diners had become extra frugal and more aware of price.
“They are now looking to actively manage their dining spend, with more than half using discount or added-value vouchers at least occasionally.”
The problem with "daily deal" scheme is they bring customers through the doors who are not necessarily loyal to the brand, she says.
In Auckland, home to almost 40% of the country’s hospitality businesses, the dining scene is highly competitive as restaurants fight for the stretched dining dollar.
Ponsonby Rd restaurants have noticed the emergence of Wynyard Quarter, Britomart and Federal St dining districts, she says.
“People are really attracted to the newest spots and restaurants with a point of difference.”
A smart restaurant marketer, particularly with social media, was Luke Dallow, who owns Red Hummingbird at Sky City, Chapel Bar & Bistro on Ponsonby Rd and has just opened Tin Soldier across the road.
The association’s latest Hospitality Report features tips from Mr Dallow for maximising social media.
“Luke is always keen to spot a marketing advantage. He says the best thing about social media is that it’s free. Consequently, you can promote products and services without having to pay for advertisements,” the report says.
Ms Bidois hoped the "daily deal" phenomena will soon die down, in keeping with overseas trends.
She noted the New Zealand sector is not as strained as in Sydney, where the much-celebrated dining scene is reported to be facing the brunt of the two-speed economy, pushing award-winning restaurants to the brink.
Paymark figures show dining-out bills are up
By the numbers, it has been a boomer month for restaurants and bars.
The Paymark Consumer Index, collating electronic transactions through the Paymark network, last week tallied up $387 million in spending at bars, cafes, restaurants and motels during June.
That is 4% higher than June last year and the highest amount recorded by the index since the Rugby World Cup in October ($385 million).
The electronic payments provider concedes there are now more bars and restaurants in its network – owned by the country’s four largest banks – and more consumers are using debit and credit cards to settle the bill.
But Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston says some of the increase is purely because of greater spending on dining out.