FLOCKING IN: Owner of Flock Espresso and Eats in Lismore, Sarah Jones.
FLOCKING IN: Owner of Flock Espresso and Eats in Lismore, Sarah Jones. Cathy Adams

Cafe sector full of beans with fast-growing turnover

CAFES and restaurants in NSW are enjoying stronger increases in turnover than anywhere else in the country.

New national data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows an increase in turnover of 9% to $23.8 billion in the year to March.

While NSW forged ahead of the pack, retail trades continued to go backwards in the ACT, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

"NSW continues to be the star performer, with industry turnover increasing to $7.8 billion, a growth rate of 14.7%," Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive John Hart said.

"Victoria and Queensland also recorded positive increases of 12.2% and 10.3% respectively."

Lismore cafe Flock Espresso and Eats has been doing a roaring trade since opening its doors nearly two years ago.

Owner Sarah Jones said the two-year mark was the "make or break" period for cafes, and it looked like her business was going to pass the test.

"We used to have a cafe in Brisbane, and have noticed people are starting to frequent cafes a lot more than they were five or six years ago," she said.

"Everyone is busy and you can feed the whole family for about $60 at a cafe, as opposed to about $60 a head at a restaurant.

"If we can eke it out for two years, then I reckon we'll be going alright."

The overall spend might be increasing, but Restaurant and Catering Australia said many restaurants and cafes were still in crisis.

Mr Hart said the industry operated on the whims of the economy, with people spending less while their chips were down.

"An increase in industry turnover does not mean an improvement in the business bottom line," Mr Hart said.

"We are seeing more people spending less and it's a concern for the sector.

"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."

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