Food service sector gets first taste of the coronavirus effect


The food service sector is recording the first signs of a drop in activity due to the spread of the coronavirus in Greece, with the hardest hit sector being catering, which is under serious threat.

The reduction of tourist numbers, which is expected to become more pronounced in the following weeks if cancellations persist, mainly affects large food service operations, while the catering sector is facing the postponement and cancellation of dozens of conference, exhibitions and corporate events.

"Since last week we have already observed a reduction in traffic at restaurants and cafes in the center of Athens and spots such as Plaka and Monastiraki that are popular with tourists," Giorgos Kavathas, president of the Hellenic Federation of Restaurateurs (POESE), tells Kathimerini. The reduction is primarily because of the slump in foreign tourist arrivals who regularly constitute the main clientele of restaurants, bars and cafes in the area.

However, in recent days, Greek consumers have been sending out worrying signs too: Sector entrepreneurs with food service companies in the center of Athens say that some patrons at restaurants or bars rush out when they start to get busy, resulting in lower consumption. Others avoid restaurants or bars in the capital's center that they used to get to using public transport, and the situation will only get worse as the virus spreads.

The cancellation or postponement of dozens of fairs and conferences have brought catering companies to the brink of bankruptcy, and the ban on such events will last until April 5 at the earliest.