[Photo by Park Hyung-ki]
Korean eatery and drinking locations have seen sales shrivel to their worst-ever this year amid repeatedly toughened business constraints from social distancing.
The retail sales index of restaurants and bars recorded 77.0 for the January-July period, the lowest since 2010 when the data tracking began, according to the Korean Statistical Information Service data on Sunday. The index with 2015 as the base year indicates a fall in actual sales of small businesses for reading below 100, and vice versa for above 100.
The sales index for small diners and bars was down 7.2 percent from a year ago period, when it plunged 12.9 percent on year amid the beginning of Covid-19 outbreak in the country and consequent social restriction measures.
The restaurant and bar sector has been experiencing sales fall even before the Covid-19 crisis, recording on-year decline of 1.7 percent in 2017, 2.7 percent in 2018 and 1.2 percent in 2019. The fall accelerated with the virus crisis, marking an annual drop of 16.2 percent in 2020.
Declining sales have also led to layoffs.
Statistics Korea data shows that the restaurant and bar industry had 214,000 on their payroll in July, off 12,000 than a year earlier. From January to July, the industry shed 562,000 jobs.
Restaurants and bars in Korean have been restricted in the number of customers they can receive per table and in business hours throughout the year. Since July, only two were allowed per a table. The business hour was shortened to 9.p.m. in August.
The mitigation rules have been slightly eased to 10:00 p.m. and larger grouping for fully-vaccinated people, starting this week.
Small restaurant and bar business owners are demanding greater relaxation and business compensation for the toll on their business from forced social mandates.
They are planning to stage in-vehicle protests across the country on Wednesday.
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]