Takeaway lunches helping keep restaurants in Czechia afloat

Photo: Lucie Fürstová, Czech Radio

Take away lunches are helping to keep restaurants and pubs around the Czech Republic afloat during the coronavirus crisis. According to the website Novinky.cz, the sums Czechs spent on lunches at dispensing windows in 2020 significantly increased on the previous year.

During the first lockdown in March and April last year, lunch transactions in Czech restaurants dropped to around one fifth of the pre-coronavirus period. According to the Ticket Restaurant Card Index, an average sum paid for lunch dropped by around 10 crowns compared to February to CZK 120.

“In April, the average sum paid for a lunch increased to CZK 125. With the easing of restrictions in May, the sums returned to the pre-Covid figures,” Jakub Ryba from the company Edenred told the website.

Photo: Lucie Fürstová,  Czech Radio

During the summer, Czech started to spend even more on their lunches. In August, they paid CZK 137 on average, which is the highest figure on record.

“After months of restraining themselves, people wanted to enjoy quality meals and they were willing to spend extra money on them,” Mr Ryba told Novinky.cz.

During the second lockdown in the autumn, the sums spent on lunches stayed relatively high, driven by a smaller offer and extra sums charged by pubs and restaurants on packaging.

While the average sum spent on lunch remained more or less the same in the autumn, analysts have noticed significant regional differences.

While in the bigger cities, including Prague and Brno, average lunch expenditures slightly decreased, in smaller towns, they were slightly higher.

Photo: Lucie Fürstová,  Czech Radio

“We think there are several factors behind this trend. Prague and Brno have the highest number of restaurants and pubs selling takeaway lunches, which increases the competition and pushes the prices down.

“To the contrary, smaller cities have fewer restaurants and they have higher prices than they used to,” Mr Ryba told Novinky.cz.

While meal vouchers motivate Czechs to buy take-away lunches, the sales of food and drinks via dispensing windows only represents a fraction of their regular revenue.

According to the restaurant’s organisations, at least half of their members are threatened with bankruptcy and thousands of people in the sector have lost their jobs.