MEDIA RELEASE: 2020 R&CA Benchmarking Report Released

Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) today announced the release of the R&CA 2020 Benchmarking Report. R&CA’s Industry Benchmarking Survey is an industry-based survey of business conditions in the restaurant, café and catering industry. The survey monitors key trends in business costs, profitability, labour and skills shortages, as well as the general business environment. 

The 2020 Benchmarking Survey was distributed to over 15,000 individual restaurant, café and catering business owners and senior managers across Australia, with 675 individual businesses completing the survey. The survey was open during October and November of 2020 and contained 70 questions relating to the 2019-20 financial year.

R&CA CEO Wes Lambert said the report, now in its 11th year, aims to present an accurate view of where the industry is and what challenges lie ahead and shows a snapshot of an industry that is under significant pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, which has defined so much about the year 2020, has undoubtedly brought with it one of the most challenging years for business owners in the restaurant, café and catering industry."

“These challenges are clearly outlined in this report – a clear loss of confidence, smaller and leaner businesses, continued pressures faced by finding quality staff and the constant march of digital technology.”

“While many of these businesses have been reliant on Government support to get through the horror year that saw more disruption than in living memory, there presents a real fear that once schemes like JobKeeper and rental support end, closure rates may skyrocket as we see confidence dropping and businesses reporting that 1 in 3 failed to turn any profit in the 2019-20 financial year."

“However, many operators have seen the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to pivot their businesses to not only survive the effects on the hospitality industry during the pandemic but to create more resilient business models to thrive in 2021.”

The Restaurant & Catering 2020 Industry Benchmarking Report can be found here.

Key Statistics:

  • Business confidence has dropped significantly, with the COVID-19 pandemic clearly negatively impacting businesses owners outlook over the next 12 months. Most business owners expect profitability to decrease or flatline and expect staffing levels to do the same. This lack of confidence effects the recovery of a sector which was decimated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses also reported that 1 in 3 failed to turn any profit in the previous financial year.
  • Business costs have dramatically changed, again as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This impact can be seen in significant drops in food costs as more operators streamlined menus in an effort to keep food costs low. Also, drops in overall wage costs were reported as restrictions, and increases in takeaway and delivery revenues resulted in a more efficient operating model, meaning less staff were needed to keep businesses afloat. The result has also been a dramatic increase in occupancy costs, which have remained static as other costs have fluctuated.
  • While wage costs have decreased, they have become the single biggest issue facing the sector according to business owners, followed by skill shortages and finally ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. The 2020 survey for the first time sought to better understand the amount of unpaid labour in restaurant, café and catering businesses – showing that many rely on significant numbers of unpaid hours by businesses owners. Many of these owners reported being unable to pay themselves at all when they work in their businesses. This problem exists against a backdrop of staffing shortages that are only getting worse despite rising unemployment rates and an award system that many believe is too complex.


  • The 2020 survey has continued to show the increasing reliance on digital technology across the sector. Use of third-party delivery apps have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic with many listing lockdowns as the key reasons for signing up.