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Canadian foodservice sales drop by half in March: Ipsos


May 12, 2020
By Canadian Pizza

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The numbers are in and as everyone could see and predict, it is not good news for the foodservice industry in Canada. COVID-19 restrictions forced restaurants to close their dining rooms.

Ipsos’ Foodservice Monitor data reveals a $3 billion decline for full-service and quick-service restaurants combined, from March 2019 compared to March 2020. The poll tracks the performance of and behaviours related to Canadian food service.

“There is a loss of over a quarter of a billion restaurant visits versus a year ago, so it is little wonder full-service restaurants have seen a sales decline of 67 per cent,” said Asad Amin, Ipsos’ vice-president, in a news release. “Quick-service restaurants have benefitted from the takeaway nature of their business. However, they too have seen business go down by at least a third. In total, March 2020 foodservice sales have dropped collectively by 47 per cent versus 2019.  We expect similar numbers for the month of April.”

The uncertainty of the pandemic means it is unknown when restaurants will be able to open their doors to customers. Several provinces have already announced an easing of restrictions, but that will not mean business as they once knew it. Limited seating will be the new safety norm. Another issue that can impact customers returning is that many Canadians (68 per cent) say they will be nervous to leave their home, even when businesses reopen. While it is difficult to predict how the industry will perform for the remainder of 2020, Ipsos’ tracking and historic data show we can expect the Canadian foodservice sector to shrink by 26 per cent, at best.

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Delivery up from last year

There have been some bright spots within this hard-hit industry, the company reports. Delivery channel orders grew by 36 per cent in the second half of March compared to a year ago. This includes both third-party aggregators and traditional delivery-focused operators. Pizza operators, as a whole, grew traffic by double digits in the second half of March compared to the first.

Customer perceptions positive

Meanwhile, there is a marked improvement in consumer perceptions about the foodservice industry itself.

“With health and safety being the top concern for consumers, businesses are releasing marketing and communications that address this fear by highlighting the safety precautions they are implementing, Amin said. “Their efforts are having an immediate impact. Over the past two weeks, a growing number of Canadians (62 per cent) believe that restaurants are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Ipsos suggested. Operators will need to be resilient, resourceful, creative and opportunistic to successfully weather the extreme challenges of coronavirus.