Turnover in the restaurant, café and catering industry has increased 9.0 percent according to retail trade data released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Retail Turnover data shows turnover in the restaurant, café and catering industry has increased to $23.8 billion for the Year Ending March 2015.

The return to growth comes after an 8.6 percent decline in turnover recorded for the Year Ending February 2015. Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) CEO John Hart said this is a positive result following a softer February trading period.

“February was a tough trading period for operators, even more so in states like the ACT and SA which recorded declines in turnover of 30.8 percent and 27.8 percent respectively,” said Mr Hart.

“Retail trade continues to go backward in the ACT, SA and NT, while the larger states have shown signs of improvement.

“NSW continues to be the star performer with industry turnover increasing to $7.8 billion, a growth rate of 14.7 percent. VIC and QLD also recorded positive increases of 12.2 percent and 10.3 percent respectively,” said Mr Hart.

Mr Hart said despite the improvement in trade in most states, the reality remains that restaurant businesses are still in crisis.

“An increase in industry turnover does not mean an improvement in the business bottom line. In fact, we know spend per person continues to decline adding to growing cost pressures. We are seeing more people spending less and it’s a concern for the sector.

“What we also see is a shift to takeaway dining when economic conditions worsen.

“While it’s encouraging to see the return to growth, managing increasing costs including rent, electricity, produce and most of all wages continues to be a major concern for operators,” Mr Hart said.