Food, Friends and Future-Proofing: 2022’s Top Trends for Licensed Clubs and Pubs

To say it’s been a rough couple of years for clubs, pubs and community hubs would be a vast understatement.

Hospitality venues were among the worst hit during the COVID pandemic, weathering lockdowns, capacity restrictions and ongoing uncertainly that hit bottom lines hard.

The great news is, things are looking up, not just in 2022 but beyond.

A recent report into Australia’s clubs and pubs industry by market research company IBISWorld shows venues are slowly bouncing back after a bleak few years that saw revenue decline an estimated 22.4% nationally in 2019-20.

“The industry is forecast to recover partially from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over the next five years, with both revenue and profitability likely to increase over the period,” the report finds.

While that’s cause for celebration, digging deeper into the research unearths some valuable tips and trends to help clubs and pubs fast-track their recovery.

A HEALTHY APPETITE FOR FOOD

Club members and pub patrons are gambling less and drinking less but eating more. Roy Morgan research shows the number of Australians who drink regularly has dropped 7.2% since 2006 and those who play the pokies have dropped 12% since 2008, owing to venue caps on poker machines and the rising popularity of online gambling. Food sales are increasing across the board and account for higher portions of venue revenue. While there’ll always be a place for the iconic counter meal, customers are increasingly demanding higher-quality, premium and gourmet menu items.

 

Helen’s Hint: Refresh your menu regularly to make the most of seasonal produce and to entice customers with new tastes and greater choices. Gourmet products – especially those that are handmade and full of fresh ingredients – will be a hit.

CUT COSTS, NOT CORNERS

IBISWorld anticipates lower discretionary income among consumers impacted by COVID will still affect clubs and pubs for the foreseeable future. This can make menu planning and ordering difficult to predict. Stock control and waste minimisation are crucial to maximising clubs’ performance and controlling purchase costs while customers get back on their feet.

 

Helen’s Hint: Lower your overheads by considering clever ways to reduce excess and product loss. Ordering pre-portioned products – such as pre-sliced banana bread, single-serve quiches and pre-cut lasagne – helps keep wastage to a minimum.

 

MORE TIME TO SOCIALISE

A combination of decreased work hours, the lifting of lockdowns and new personal priorities means people are dedicating more time to leisure and entertainment. As venues return to full capacity and people feel more confident to venture from home, they are increasingly turning to community clubs and pubs to socialise with friends and family. Venues that offer excellent service and high-quality food and beverage are more likely to maintain a loyal customer base and attract new members.

 

Helen’s Hint: Consider designing menus that are inclusive and cater to a range of appetites, dietary requirements and lifestyle choices to appeal not only to members and regular customers but their guests too. Perhaps look at adding share-style platters and products to the menu to cater for larger groups.

 

OVERCOMING STAFF SHORTAGES

Unfortunately, many clubs and pubs continue to operate with reduced employee numbers as they experience an industry-wide skills shortage following prolonged venue closures in 2020-21. While most are actively seeking to recruit more employees, it is estimated it could be some months until most clubs and pubs are again running at full capacity.

 

Helen’s Hint: Plan menus to include a range of high-quality heat-and-serve items such as gourmet scrolls, handmade pies and premium filos to complement meals prepared on-site. Not only do these products help to reduce labour and preparation time, but they also provide venues with a cost-effective all-day meal service.

 

Helen’s premium savoury and sweet products are handmade with love using fresh, seasonal ingredients from traditional family recipes. View Helen’s full range of high-quality, labour-saving gourmet products HERE.

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