People Eating Out Again, But Landscape Changed

People eating out again, but landscape changed

Restaurants in Japan are seeing their revenue tick up again, two months after the government lifted a declaration of emergency over the coronavirus. But one new survey has found that customer traffic is still only about half the level seen this time last year.

Tokyo-based IT firm Toreta compiled data from about 5,800 restaurants across Japan. The company makes systems for taking reservations and managing customer information.

The results show that the number of customers began falling in February, when the coronavirus started spreading.

In the fourth week of April, when a nationwide declaration of emergency was in place, customer traffic hit bottom, down by nearly 93% year-on-year.

The numbers have been gradually recovering since the declaration was lifted near the end of May. But their total in the third week of July was down by about half from last year's level.

The survey also found that many customers are dining alone or in pairs. The number of parties with more than 10 people is down by more than 80% from last year.

Toreta founder Nakamura Hitoshi says restaurants in busy areas and those targeting large groups are still struggling, and should change their strategy to cater better to smaller groups.