Normalcy in the food service sector is not expected to return before 2024, according to a survey conducted by MSPS and Alternative on behalf of Coca-Cola HBC. However, that normality will likely be quite different to the pre-pandemic period, as changes in entertainment habits over the last couple of years appear to have become permanent.
The conclusions of the survey were presented on Friday on the opening day of the HORECA fair, the exhibition for the hospitality and food service sector that will last until Monday at the Metropolitan Expo center at Spata.
So what are the most important changes in Greeks’ going-out habits? First of all, they go out earlier, usually from 7 to 10 p.m., a trend that is more evident in the capital’s suburbs.
People also tend to go out more often straight after work, a habit that until recently was only observed abroad. There are fewer people in each group of friends, partly due to the restrictions in the number of people per table, while bills tend to run up higher and people appear more willing to get up and dance.
Another significant dimension is the rise of food delivery, given also the expansion of online delivery platforms.
Compared to the pre-pandemic period, there has been a 6% reduction in people visiting cafes, a 12% drop in taverna patrons, restaurant customers have gone down 21%, cafe-bar clients have fallen 23%, fast-food buyers have decreased 20%, while the declines in bar visitors, club goers and bar-restaurant clientele have come to 30%, 51% and 37% respectively.
The main reasons that those polled cite for not going out as much as they used and having fun at home instead are saving money (for 70% of people) and safety (for 62% of respondents). Almost one in two (46%) said they wanted to avoid the crowds and the noise.
Compared to the pre-Covid period, 66% said they now go out less, but 55% said they consume about the same amount of food and drink when they do go out and 37% that they consume less than before. At home or outside, consumers must now pay more for the same products.