4 Incredible Reasons Why Hong Kong Restaurants Outperform Others During Covid-19
With so much disruption brought about by the global pandemic, how are HK restaurants still thriving?
HK’s F&B Industry Not Immune
We’ve given the game away in the title, but despite Hong Kong restaurants doing remarkably well, the situation in Asia’s World City is still far from ideal. Restaurants have to adhere to strict rules, and many are still unable to stay open as long as they once would have. There are also mandatory social distancing measures in place, meaning that restaurant capacity is generally down compared to pre-COVID times.
Adding to all of this frustration for restaurants is the fact that tourism in Hong Kong is at an all-time low given the mandatory 2-3 week quarantine for visitors coming in from abroad. With such stringent measures, Hong Kong is seeing far fewer tourists, which is also impacting the business of many restaurants. While most restaurants in Hong Kong are able to draw in a local crowd, some F&B businesses rely heavily on an influx of foreign tourists to keep revenues up.
With all this doom and gloom, it would appear that Hong Kong’s food & beverage industry would be flagging and flailing in a desperate attempt to stay alive, right? Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. In fact, the number of general restaurant licences has increased compared to the same time last year according to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), which begs the question, how are Hong Kong restaurants doing so well?
1. Plenty of Public Holidays and Festivals
Hong Kong is a diverse city with lots of people that have different faiths and beliefs. With this in mind, there are a surprising number of public holidays that restaurants can take advantage of and enjoy a higher volume of business.
Below, you can find a list of all of Hong Kong’s 2021 public holidays:
New Year’s Day
Lunar New Year’s Day
2nd day of Lunar New Year
3rd day of Lunar New Year
Ching Ming Festival
Labour Day, 1st of May
Tuen Ng Festival
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, 1st of July
The day following the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival
Chung Yeung Festival
National Day, 1st of October
Chinese Winter Solstice Festival or Christmas Day
With so many reasons to celebrate, and an inability to travel abroad, Hong Kong restaurants often receive surges of business thanks to the high number of public holidays. This is one of the reasons why the F&B industry has been able to perform better than restaurants in other countries around the world.
2. Eating Out is a Way of Life in Hong Kong
Hong Kongers often work long hours and simply do not have the time to cook meals at home on a regular basis. This means that demand for local restaurants, especially for delivery and takeaway is remarkably high. Hong Kongers work 50.1 hours a week, which to put it into context, is 38% above the global average. This means that restaurants are needed to provide meals for Hong Kong citizens since time is so tight and cooking at home is not always a viable option.
3. HK Government Consumption Voucher Scheme
Hong Kong permanent residents all receive 5,000 HKD from the government as part of the Consumption Voucher Scheme. The money is deposited into online payment wallets such as Hong Kong’s Octopus Card or Alipay. The money is deposited in three instalments of 2,000HKD, 2,000HKD and 1,000HKD. For each instalment to come through, the previous instalment must be spent. Given that the money is tied to payment wallets, it must be used to stimulate the local economy and cannot just be deposited to a bank account as savings.
A lot of this money has been pumped into the F&B sector, especially to restaurants that have point of sale (POS) systems that support cashless payments.
4. Hong Kong’s Virus Infection Rate is Practically Zero
Unlike other countries where COVID is still rampant and lockdowns are mandatory, Hong Kong is basically operating as normal. People are free to go out to eat and drink, schools are in session and office workers no longer have to work from home. With life basically resuming as it has before the virus, people feel comfortable dining out again - especially as it provides a great way to enjoy with friends and form closer bonds with family.
As mentioned before, with travel being so difficult because of strict quarantine rules, Hong Kongers are seeking adventure in other ways – one of them being to sample much of the city’s unique F&B offerings.
A Perfect Mixing Pot for Success
While Hong Kong certainly does still have its own set of unique challenges brought about by COVID-19, it also has some unique advantages when compared to other countries. The virus is limiting restaurants’ ability to stay open late and increase seating capacity, but the potent blend of public holidays, Hong Kongers’ reliance on eating out, an influx of spending cash through the Government Consumption Voucher Scheme and the lack of virus cases, means that Hong Kong restaurants have been receiving great support from the general public!