Covid-19 crisis: “The State must help restaurants go digital”

Economist specializing in the catering market, Olivier Gergaud invites the State to help restaurateurs so that they have a website, a measure that could “save” part of the sector.

What does the situation of restaurateurs inspire you?

OLIVIER GERGAUD. Catering is a sector in great difficulty. The 200,000 establishments of all types in France today sail completely on sight and what some of them are doing is admirable! Some initiatives are starting to emerge on the Net to raise awareness of the work behind the scenes of some and bypass delivery platforms which are congested today and are struggling to satisfy all customers. I am thinking in particular of the Restoducoin site, created by Parisian restaurateurs, which allows you to order a dish of the day for 1 euro from a local establishment. It must be launched this week (Editor’s note: Monday at midnight) and will make it possible to respond to an unmet demand.

Which ?

Many French people would like to indulge themselves by ordering a good pizza, for example, but their usual restaurants are closed and, as I said, the delivery platforms are often saturated. On the other hand, some restaurateurs continue their activity and find it difficult to make themselves known because they are not sufficiently present on the Internet and social networks. Sometimes they don’t even have a website. So there is a problem for supply to meet demand. It is essentially a matter of disseminating information. We need to make this shadow work better known. The challenge is to help certain establishments go digital.

Olivier Gergaud is professor of economics, specialist in the catering market. Cesi / Giovanni Cittadini

How do you get there?

The State could create a mission to better organize this new catering market and offer human support. Public subsidies allow some to avoid bankruptcy, but it is not enough. Some restaurateurs are still too cautious about digital technology and are wary of the excessive fees charged by platforms (around 30% of the amount of the order). Allowing them, individually, to familiarize themselves with digital technology would save more than one. France is still too far behind in this area, especially compared to Asian countries.

Would these initiatives allow restaurateurs to get by?

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Of course, they will not be able to secure their usual turnover, but that would at least allow them to stay afloat! The great concern of restaurateurs today is to face their fixed costs, in particular rents and insurance. Take-out is a real opportunity. It could at least help certain establishments to cover their fixed costs.

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