Restaurant business sentiment hits post-pandemic highKorean restaurant business sentiment rebounded in the first quarter of the year on eased social distancing rules, but it was still below pre-pandemic levels, a state food distribution firm said Thursday.
The business survey index (BSI) for the country's restaurant industry stood at a post-pandemic high of 67.26 for the January-March period, up 7.5 points from a year earlier, according to the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.
The first-quarter reading was also 7.93 points higher than the BSI in the fourth quarter of last year, which plumbed an all-time low due to the protracted fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.
Yet, it was below the 71.44 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019, just before the Covid-19 outbreak in Asia's fourth-largest economy began. The country's first coronavirus case was confirmed on Jan. 20, 2020.
A reading below 100 means the number of companies forecasting their businesses will worsen beat those expecting improvements.
The corporation attributed the first-quarter rebound to relaxed social distancing measures, which allowed more citizens to dine out.
In February, the government extended the operating hours of restaurants by one hour to 10 p.m. in the Seoul metropolitan area, while lifting business-hour regulations on those in the rest of the country.
The state company, however, said restaurant owners appear to be stuck in dire financial straits as the BSI remains below the pre-pandemic levels.
The local restaurant industry has been in a long slump due to the coronavirus outbreak as social distancing measures force people to avoid dining out.