Revenue generated by restaurant and bar businesses in South Korea plunged to an all-time low in 2018 following changes in Koreans’ lifestyles with shorter working hours and a rise in the number of single-member households, data showed Saturday.
According to the index of services data released by Statistics Korea on Saturday, the retail sales index of restaurants and bars in the January-November period last year stood at 97.0, the lowest during the period since the agency began compiling related data in 2010.
The retail sales index is a key indicator that assesses the current performance of sales generated by the retail sectors and is based on a sample survey of related businesses. The average revenue in 2015 is set as the base figure of 100, and the index is computed without inflation effect.
The retail sales index for the January-November period declined for two straight years in 2016 which stood at 100.9 and 99.0 in 2017. The decline in the index comes is partly driven by changes in the country’s overall dining culture with the shorter work week and the growing number of single-member households.
Last year, the Korean government cut the country’s maximum working hours from 68 to 52 hours per week, allowing people to have more balance between their personal life and work with fewer work meals with late-night drinking, widely known as “hoesik” in Korean.
An unnamed official from Statistics Korea said that a growing number of single-member households also have led to a rise in demand for ready meals online or convenience stores, which in return has reduced demand for dining out at traditional restaurants and bars.
Statistics Korea noted that overall revenue of restaurants and bars in Korea also fell during the cited period due to a drop in the number of Chinese travelers visiting Korea amid diplomatic conflict over Seoul’s deployment of U.S. anti-missile system.
An overall revenue drop in the food service sector has had an adverse impact on employment in the lodging and food service sectors that fell 45,000 last year from a year earlier.
By Kim Yeon-joo and Lee Eun-joo
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