NSW cafes and restaurants seeing stronger turnover

CAFES and restaurants in NSW are enjoying stronger increases in turnover than anywhere else in the country.

New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a nationwide increase in turnover of 9%, to $23.8 billion, in the year to March.

While NSW forged well ahead of the pack, retail trades continued to go backwards in the ACT, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

"New South Wales continues to be the star performer with industry turnover increasing to $7.8 billion, a growth rate of 14.7%," Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive John Hart said.

"Victoria and Queensland also recorded positive increases of 12.2% and 10.3% respectively."

Irons and Craig cafe owners Antony Perring and David Barnier have experienced the upswing firsthand with similar turnover increases at their Yamba business.

It has been operating for two years after the owners decided to shift from Sydney.

"From a Yamba perspective, as a holiday town it is always fantastic over summer but drops off in winter and during the non-school holiday periods," Mr Perring said.

"But we've experienced a real change in that trend.

"The peaks aren't as high and the troughs aren't as deep because we have a lot of holidaymakers coming in the traditionally quieter months.

"That allows us to keep going without squirreling everything away for the quieter months."

The overall spend may be increasing, but many restaurants and cafes are still in crisis.

Mr Hart said the industry operated on the whims of the economy, with people spending less while their chips were down.

"An increase in industry turnover does not mean an improvement in the business bottom line," he said.

"In fact, we know spend per person continues to decline, adding to growing cost pressures.

"We are seeing more people spending less and it's a concern for the sector.

"While it's encouraging to see the return to growth, managing increasing costs including rent, electricity, produce and most of all wages continues to be a major concern for operators."

For their part, the Irons and Craig owners said high penalty rates remained their biggest business concern.

"That's our major cost and something we can't change," Mr Perring said.

"With any increase in customer activity, you need more staff to service them." -APN NEWSDESK

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