Some establishments said sales and footfall have been the highest since the onset of the pandemic
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NEW DELHI :
Bars, pubs and nightclubs are reporting a sharp rebound in footfall, with improving walk-ins and resumption of live events, according to a Mint survey. While a few establishments said sales and footfall have been the highest since the onset of the pandemic, for others, business transactions matched December 2021 levels, with a rise in the number of dinners visiting bars and pubs following a drop in covid-19 cases.
“Footfalls are as good as pre-covid, even up 30%," said Akshay Anand who runs the Ophelia and Cosy Box clubs in Delhi. Anand said diners were back to celebrating birthdays and anniversaries as well as the occasional get-togethers during the week. Tourists, both domestic and international, are also turning up in significant numbers.
“We see a lot of embassy crowd coming to Ophelia and Cosy Box. Vaccination has really helped ease down the covid scare in patrons’ mind. I think everyone is aware that we need to learn to co-exist with the virus," he added.
Typically, December has been one of the strongest months for restaurants, bars and pubs, but March was better with the resumption of live events, said Ankit Mehrotra, chief executive and co-founder, Dineout, a restaurant tech solution platform. “The entire going-out culture is back with a bang; footfalls are back to pre-covid levels and, in some cases, even stronger than that."
In general, consumers are feeling the need to step out and socialize, Mehrotra said. Reservations for popular bars and restaurants are seeing an uptick during the weekends. “This trend is visible across the top cities."
The pandemic had severely impacted nightlife in India’s top cities. As offices mandated work-from-home, and strict curbs were imposed, bars struggled to survive. This led to a churn with many bars shuttering operations. However, things are starting to look up since late last year.
Minakshi Singh, partner at Thirsty Three Hospitality that runs Cocktails and Dreams, Speakeasy, Cafe Lungta and Sidecar in Delhi NCR, said consumption patterns have changed.
“Customers are definitely stepping out more, sometimes even on weekdays. They are also consuming more quality alcohol and ordering more premium food at our bars. The experience of going-out has really gone up by several notches," she said.
Mehrotra said consumers are stepping out at least six to seven times a month, a significant increase from the two to three times earlier. Singh said business is at least 20-30% higher in Delhi-NCR as diners are meeting colleagues after a long time and holding small celebrations.
She said, however, that demand could plateau in the coming months as fatigue sets in. Besides, restaurants are facing high commodity inflation, and are likely to pass on the price increases to customers gradually, and that may prompt diners to avoid eating out.
In Gurugram, weekend business is picking up. “Revival has been good, we are back to pre-covid levels. We’re seeing corporate crowds returning during the weekdays," said Vishal Anand, chief executive, Moonshine Food Ventures, which runs fine-dine restaurant Saga in Gurugram and Farzi Cafe in Aerocity, among others. On weekends, its restaurants are working at full capacity.
Vikram Achanta, chief executive, Tulleeho, a drinks training and consulting platform, said Bangalore, Goa, Chennai and Delhi-NCR are seeing a revival in business. “As the consumer comes back, for the moment at least, they’re not so conscious about the prices and will go out. Taking into account seasonality, Goa is perhaps one of the few markets that is seeing a bit of a dip because most markets have opened up, and the consumer doesn’t necessarily need to travel for a night out in town."