Taipei, March 27 (CNA) Single-person households have become more popular in Taiwan in the past decade and now there are an increasing number of services catering to those living alone.
Taiwan had 2.747 million single-person households by the end of 2016, accounting for 32.09 percent of all households in the country, up from 2.023 million in 2007, according to the Ministry of the Interior statistics.
Singles are most prevalent in urban area. The single-person households accounted for 34.92 percent, 34.51 percent and 34.25 percent of all households in Taipei, New Taipei and Kaohsiung, respectively, in 2016.
In the past, single thirty-somethings or older tend to stand out in social or family gatherings, but about 40 percent of people between the ages of 30 to 39 were unmarried in 2015, according to a statistics by the Ministry of the Interior.
Anyone unmarried is single, but he or she does not necessarily live alone. Some married people live alone, while many unmarried people live with their partners or children. As there are more single people in society, however, people who live alone tend to be more numerous too.
Businesses are starting to take notice of this consumer group.
A new variant of papaya produced by Yang Chien-te (楊乾德), a farmer in Gaoshu Township in Pingtung County, is about half the weight of the current ones on the market, and is sold for about NT$80 (US$2.65), suitable for a person to eat during breakfast. It has been welcomed by local consumers.
Recipe books for people living alone have meanwhile become popular mainly among women aged 30 and up, and especially for women in the 40-44 age group, according to Books.com.tw (博客來), Taiwan's largest online bookstore.
Travel books for solo travel are also selling well and some 80 percent of its buyers are women, it said. As a case in point, Chinese translations of picture books by Japanese woman author Naoko Takagi, who has published some 30 books on living alone since 2003, have been popular in the past decade.
Single people, however, admit there are inconveniences and awkward moments.
A 30-year-old public servant, surnamed Wang, who rents an apartment with her elder sister in Taipei, said she and her sister both dine out since they have different work shifts.
Wang said finding someone to have dinner with is not easy, because married coworkers have to go home and unmarried ones might have a date or other arrangements. So "single friendly restaurants are a salvation" for us unmarried people, she said.
Chang Hua-chen (張華宸), a barbecue restaurant owner, said his motivation to open his single friendly eatery was due to his own experience of being discriminated against in a lamb and goat barbecue restaurant.
He never thought his restaurant would become popular among singles, but now nearly 40 percent of all customers are singletons, Chang said.
Business owners have meanwhile noticed single people have different consumption habits.
Shen Yu-wei (沈佑威), a spicy hotpot restaurant owner, said single customers normally spend 50 minutes in a meal, while two customers might spend an hour and a half.
Shen said despite not taking as much time eating, single customers interestingly spend on average more than customers in a group.
"About 30 percent of our monthly revenue, which is nearly NT$1 million, comes from single customers," he said.
(By Chen C.W., Milly Lin, Bernie Chiu and Kuo Chung-han)