Coronavirus: More Singapore restaurant closures and layoffs to come, Chope survey finds

Revenues from takeaways and deliveries have been insufficient to offset restaurants' losses. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - More restaurants and eateries in Singapore will shut their doors if dining-in restrictions are extended past the circuit breaker period, according to a survey by online restaurant reservation platform Chope out on Wednesday (May 20).

The survey reported that 42 per cent of restaurants, or about two in five, said they would not be able to operate beyond two months at the current rate of cost and revenue, while 81 per cent said they cannot survive beyond six months.

Chope also told The Straits Times that 58 restaurants delisted from its booking platform due to permanent closures in March and April - a 50 per cent jump over the same period last year.

Its survey, meanwhile, received responses from more than 150 dining establishments. It was conducted after a two-month-long circuit breaker shutdown took effect on April 7.

The survey also showed that 42 per cent of restaurants offered delivery for the first time in the light of the tightened measures.

But takeaway and delivery alone are not significant revenue streams to sustain the businesses, the survey report said.

"Restaurants have spent enormous effort figuring out how to do deliveries, but the data shows it's only helping marginally," said Mr Arrif Ziaudeen, founder and chief executive of The Chope Group.

Some 62 per cent of restaurants that continued to operate on a takeaway and delivery basis have seen significant falls of 50 per cent or more in revenue compared with the same period last year.

In addition, the revenue generated is not sufficient to offset the losses and restaurants still face the high cost of working with logistics or third-party delivery providers, which remains their biggest challenge, said the report.

About 88 per cent of the restaurants that had delivery and takeaway services prior to this period also said that these measures only contributed less than 10 per cent of their revenue.

The Government said on Tuesday that dining-in will remain prohibited at food and beverage establishments in the first phase of Singapore's reopening on June 2, as the Covid-19 situation stabilises.

The survey found that about 11 per cent of restaurants have already retrenched staff, with another 25 per cent considering ceasing employment of more staff if the situation does not improve.

Around 42 per cent of the eateries have also implemented pay cuts. An earlier survey in March found that nearly 80 per cent said they were reducing casual labour hours and about one-third were imposing compulsory leave for full-time staff.

Meanwhile, 13 per cent also said they have not received rental waivers from landlords, as the equivalent of the property tax rebate given by the Government.

"Covering rent and salaries will require some easing off of dine-in restrictions, balanced carefully against public health concerns," said Mr Ziaudeen.

"When that happens, we're confident that diners' pent up demand will help get restaurants back on track," he said.

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