People are going out a little more often but not spending up large, says Restaurant Association Nelson president Howard Morris.
The Restaurant Association's Hospitality Report showed cafe and restaurant sales revenue for the year to March grew 9.8 per cent, or $345.4 million, to $3.9 billion compared to the previous corresponding period.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said it was the strongest growth in six years and outstripped the impact of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
In Nelson, Morris, who co-owns Harry's Bar, said since January he had noticed growth each month.
"We've done slightly better month on month than last year, it's not huge by any means. It's a little bit and it's better than going backwards."
It was still tough, with closures such as Relish and Eatalian restaurants, but there were signs of confidence such as Ford's planning to open a second restaurant and When In Rome rebranding as Earth Sea, he said.
Tourism figures showing visitor numbers were up were also encouraging. "I would like to think if things keep tracking the way they are hopefully things will improve," he said.
The survey showed people were going out a bit more often but not spending as much, he said. "The spend is still there because you have more customers."
Nationally, sales revenue for the hospitality sector increased 6.3 per cent to $7.6b.
"It's fantastic news for the industry because we've weathered a few tough years," Bidois said.
Across the sector takeaways sales grew 3.1 per cent compared to the previous corresponding period, pubs and taverns increased 2.6 per cent, and clubs increased 14.7 per cent.
Bidois said the total sales revenue for clubs was not as high as that of restaurants and cafes but the percentage increase showed how much work had gone into developing the area.
The only sector to decrease was catering service, down 1.9 per cent.
Regionally, revenue growth in Otago, Manawatu-Whanganui, Canterbury and Auckland was above the national average, up 14.5 per cent, 11.5 per cent, 10.8 per cent and 6.9 per cent respectively.
There was no regional breakdown for Nelson-Tasman.
- The Nelson Mail
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