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B.C. hit hard by new rules and taxes


May 4, 2011
By Canadian Pizza

pzcanadianmoneythumbnailMay 4, 2011, Vancouver – Nearly nine in 10 restaurateurs have seen a drop in sales since the introduction of the HST and new drinking-and-driving penalties in British Columbia, according to a province-wide survey by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA).

Overall restaurant sales dropped by an average of 15 per cent in the seven months following the July 2010 introduction of the HST, according to survey respondents. Liquor sales in particular fell by 21 per cent in the four months following the introduction of new blood alcohol content (BAC) regulations in late Sept. 2010.

In the same survey, 68 per cent of the province’s restaurateurs said they will vote against HST as it is currently structured in the upcoming referendum on the tax.

“For several months these two public policies have stalled any post-recession recovery in British Columbia’s restaurant industry – a recovery that has already taken hold in other provinces,” says Mark von Schellwitz, CRFA vice-president for Western Canada. “The restaurant industry is the fourth-largest private-sector employer in B.C. and contributes to communities all across the province. We urge the government to stop giving British Columbians more reasons to stay home, and work with us to create a better business climate for our members and their customers.”

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The survey also found:

  • Eighty-eight per cent of licensed restaurant and bar operators said the new 0.05 drinking and driving penalties resulted in a drop in liquor sales
  • Licensees reported an average 21 per cent loss in liquor sales between Oct. 2010 and Jan. 2011 compared to the same period a year earlier
  • As a result of the declining sales caused by HST and the new drinking and driving penalties, 72 per cent of respondents said they have cut back on staff hours, 54 per cent are offering more deal and promotions to keep customers, 31 per cent are doing more advertising and marketing, and 20 per cent have reduced their hours of operation.

The CRFA online survey of restaurant owners and operators was conducted between March 23 and March 31. The findings represent 1,909 businesses in British Columbia.