Free delivery, free food and discounts: local eateries fight plunging business amid coronavirus fears

F&B brands Business Insider spoke to said they were adopting new measures to attract customers, including free delivery and substantial discounts.
The Straits Times

Amid fears of a community spread of the coronavirus here, revenues at eateries across Singapore have taken a nosedive and are expected to continue plunging, with the majority of restaurants predicting falling business from now until May.

The Restaurant Association of Singapore said on Thursday (Feb 13) that a poll it had run with its 450 members – representing about 4,000 F&B outlets here – revealed that around 6 in 10 brands expected revenue to drop by over 50 per cent in the coming three months.

Association president Vincent Tan said that it was “expected” that people were staying home to avoid crowds. “We believe that the full impact of the coronavirus has yet to be felt…. jobs are at risk,” he added.

Several F&B brands Business Insider spoke to said they were adopting new measures to attract customers, mainly centred around delivery services and substantial discounts.

Michelin-starred dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan is giving a 30 per cent discount on orders off Deliveroo from Feb 15 to March 1, while Paradise Group, which owns 14 brands including Lenu, Beauty In The Pot, Paradise Classic and Canton Paradise, is giving a 20 per cent discount on takeaway orders across all of its nearly 50 restaurants.

It is also offering free and discounted delivery across various delivery platforms.

OLA Kitchen Group – which owns Spanish restaurant OLA Cocina Del Mar at Marina Bay Financial Centre and Peruvian restaurant TONO Cevicheria at Duo Towers – has started offering free delivery within outlets’ respective buildings, while Le Fusion, an Asian fusion restaurant located on Robertson Quay, is allowing groups of 20 or more to book the entire premises for lunch.

To attract customers to eat in, brands like Kam’s Roast and Yun Nan are even offering free bowls of Chinese-style soup to strengthen diners’ immune systems.

Food delivery companies Foodpanda and Deliveroo told Business Insider they had seen a 10 and 20 per cent increase in orders respectively, attributing the spike both to the coronavirus, as well as new promotions and marketing campaigns.

Foodpanda added that its rise in sales could also be due to the recent launch of its grocery delivery service, for which it was offering a 50 per cent discount.

Amid a panic-buying frenzy last week, supermarkets too reported spiking sales of groceries, indicating more people could be opting to cook at home.

Dairy Farm Group – which owns Cold Storage and Giant – said it had seen a spike in demand for fresh produce, while NTUC FairPrice said some of the most popular items bought by shoppers during this period included rice, soft drinks and coffee.

FairPrice added that demand for online orders had exceeded even Chinese New Year volumes, and all its grocery delivery slots had been fully subscribed since the outbreak started.

Additional reporting by Lamont Mark Smith.

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