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    Sep 05, 2016

    Less appetite for dining out as economy slows


    RESTAURANTS here are taking a serious beating amid the slowing economy, with sales in the first half of the year dropping almost every month year-on-year.

    The biggest fall was in March, when restaurant takings fell 9.8 per cent compared with March last year, according to figures from the Department of Statistics.

    On the flipside, sales at food courts, cafes and canteens have been on the upswing. Takings have increased by 0.2 to 7 per cent year-on-year, in the first six months of the year.

    "The economy is generally slowing down and this might have caused Singaporeans to be more conservative in their spending," said the Restaurant Association of Singapore's executive director Lim Rui Shan.

    CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun agreed, noting that wage growth has slowed.

    "People still have to eat but they are more careful with how much they spend," he said.

    And it is not just individuals and families who are cutting back.

    Companies are also holding fewer corporate meals at fancy restaurants, he added.

    Irene Choo, 54, who runs her own cleaning business, said she is cutting down on how much she spends on food given the uncertain economic climate.

    She now dines at restaurants once a week at most, compared to a few times a week previously.

    "It's too expensive to eat at restaurants, where it can cost $50 a person," she noted.

    At foodcourt chain Kopitiam, sales have increased by 1 to 2 per cent in the first half of the year.

    Foodcourt operator NTUC Foodfare said sales have been stable at its outlets.

    Ms Lim of the Restaurant Association said it is difficult to predict if restaurant sales will pick up in the latter half of the year as analysts are not optimistic about Singapore's economic growth this year.

    "The festive seasons at the end of the year might help boost sales," she added.