Australian consumers cautious but eager to eat

Me&u founder Stevan Premutico sees sustained interest from customers in takeaway.
Me&u founder Stevan Premutico sees sustained interest from customers in takeaway. Photo: Supplied

"When I started on this I expected the results to be doom and gloom," Stevan Premutico says of the wide-ranging surveys he has taken to get a feel for the future of the hospitality industry.

"What we found is hospo is more integral to our lifestyle than we think – it is an extension of who we are."

When Premutico talks about the industry, people take note. The entrepreneur made his name and fortune predicting the future of the industry, selling Dimmi to TripAdvisor and punting on start-up me&u.

Premutico surveyed 512 consumers online Australia-wide, while also liaising with industry leaders for a more rounded picture. 

In an encouraging sign, 60 per cent of survey respondents said COVID-19 won't change their spending patterns when restrictions eventually lift.

About half of those surveyed say they will eat out just as often as they did before the lockdown, and 20 per cent are ready to live large and eat out more frequently.

Premutico predicts pick-up to flatten but takeaway to continue to boom. According to recent data from analytics firm AlphaBeta, which is part of Accenture, and credit bureau illion, food delivery has already surged across the Sydney basin, with the coronavirus shutdown seeing a spike of up to 350 per cent in some council areas in the city's west.

It isn't all beer and scallops however. Overall Australians will spend the same or less when we do eat out, be more cautious with our tipping, and be a tad more conservative – sticking with staples when ordering. We'll also be more tech-savvy, and cash averse.

"As an industry we'd started to think of ourselves as Qantas, [but] now we need to think of ourselves as more like a Jetstar," he says of the nimbleness required to adapt.

"It's a great opportunity to have a restart and rethink, not just reopen and do what was done before."