Czech café culture thrives as people turn away from pubs

Rising costs in food and – especially – beer have priced many people out of dining at pubs, leading many to visit cafés more often. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 21.03.2024 11:47:00 (updated on 21.03.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

A study by payment application Dotycačka has found that cafés nationwide performed the strongest financially out of all food-outlet types in 2023, whereas pubs struggled to grow. 

Cafés saw an average 8-percent rise in sales last year compared to 2022, restaurants experienced 5 percent growth, fast-food outlets 3 percent, and sales in the pub category stayed stagnant.

What exactly is behind the rise of cafés?

According to the director of Dotykačka Petr Menclík, café culture has also been developing in Czechia in recent years, which is mainly related to generational change. "Previous generations used to hang out in pubs; the current youth – perhaps due to a hipster wave – are more likely to go to cafes," Menclík told Czech media outlet

One of the main reasons for the success of cafés is their ability to offer a diverse range of products, from coffee and sweet desserts (less typical in pubs) to wine and creative dishes, Dotykačka says. This wide selection has made them less sensitive to price increases, with customers willing to pay over CZK 100 for a coffee and croissant, Dotycačka says. Cafés’ higher margins also help their situation.

Menclík also notes that cafés’ combination of quick service, snacks, and alcohol makes them particularly popular.

Tough times for the Czech pub

According to the analysis, the average inflation rate in gastronomy was 6 percent last year. The increasing costs in pub meals and operational costs drove away customers in 2023, leading to a 6-percent fall in sales. 

A study from Dotycačka in February on the rising cost of staple Czech meals also illustrates pubs’ affliction. It found that an order of goulash increased in price from CZK 116 in January 2021 to CZK 182 today – a jump of 57 percent.

Unfortunately, worse times may be ahead for Czech pubs: the large jump in value-added tax (VAT) for draft beer – from 10 to 21 percent – may put people off pubs even more.

Restaurants have recorded small growth, likely due to their lessened dependence on alcohol sales. While fast food sales have slowed in the past year, large chains like McDonald's have performed well, with the U.S. fast food giant registering a 16-percent increase in sales in the Czech Republic last year.

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