Restaurants Tighten Belts as Single Diners Replace Families

  • By Choi Jong-seok

    December 20, 2017 12:27

    More Koreans dine out alone as the numbers of singles rise, but those with families seem to be losing their appetite for going out to eat.

    According to a survey of 3,000 consumers by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs out Tuesday, people dined out with family or friends on average 14.8 times per month this year, down 0.2 times on-year.

    But more people ate out alone at 4.1 times per month, up 0.4 times. Each family spent W300,000 a month dining out this year, down from W310,000 last year (US$1=W1,084).

    The proportion of singles to all households rose from 15.5 percent in 2000 to a whopping 27.8 percent or 5.28 million last year. Men in their 20s in Seoul take up the largest group of people who eat out alone with 6.3 times a month.

    Restaurant profitability has fallen apace. Their average monthly sales grew from W140 million in 2015 to W160 million last year, but operating profits dropped three percentage points to 24.2 percent.

    "This is probably because the economy is in a recession, and the minimum wage and rents have increased," a ministry official said.

    The hourly minimum wage increased 8.1 percent from W5,580 in 2015 to W6,030 last year. Restaurant owners are tightening their belts. Their ratio of food ingredients to all costs dropped from 37.8 percent to 30.7 percent and their average staff from 2.46 to 2.37 people during the same period.

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