Catering sector business bounces back

By LI YINGXUE | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-02-14 07:17
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Customers taste local food at a restaurant in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Jan 24 to celebrate Chinese New Year. LIU JIANHUA/FOR CHINA DAILY

Diners return to restaurants after optimization of COVID response

At 9 am during Spring Festival, two hours before a branch of the Feidachu Fried Pork With Chili restaurant opened in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, a long line of customers stretching more than 100 meters formed outside the outlet.

Those standing in line were waiting to be given numbers to secure entry to the eatery, located on Huangxing Road Pedestrian Street, one of the city's most bustling areas.

All numbers were distributed within 30 minutes each day during Spring Festival.

The 70-plus branches of the restaurant in Changsha, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, Guangdong province, witnessed long lines of customers during the weeklong holiday and for Lantern Festival, which fell on Feb 5.

Lu Wenwei, public relations officer for the chain of eateries, said, "We promised our customers that once they were given a number, we would serve them no matter how long they had been waiting."

Since December, the catering sector in China has witnessed a fast recovery for dine-in business and delivery services, as well as precooked products, after the authorities announced optimized COVID-19 control measures.

This year, the Spring Festival holiday and Lantern Festival witnessed this rebound, which has given those in the industry added confidence for their operations this year.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, during Spring Festival, sales at key national retail and catering enterprises nationwide rose by 6.8 percent year-on-year.

Such enterprises' income in Hainan and Hunan provinces rose by 15.3 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively, year-on-year, while those in Zhejiang province witnessed an 8.9 percent rise.

Dong Chao, who researches consumption for the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said this growth trend is good news for the catering sector. As consumption levels during Spring Festival were "a good start", Dong expects them to stabilize and improve throughout the year.

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