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Food services and drinking places sales rise as restrictions loosen: Statistics Canada


August 6, 2020
By Canadian Pizza

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Chart: Sales in food services and drinking places, Statistics Canada

Ottawa – Sales in Canadian food services and drinking places increased 35.3 per cent to $3.1 billion in May compared with April, following two consecutive months of decreased sales due to COVID-19 regulations, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada.

With businesses across the country gradually reopening, higher sales were reported across all industry groups and each of the provinces and territories. However, when comparing May 2020 to May 2019, unadjusted sales are still down by half.

The largest increases in dollar terms were reported at limited-service restaurants (+30.8%) followed by full-service restaurants (+51.4%), special food services (+8.3%) and drinking places (+155.6%).

Sales at limited-service restaurants increased by almost one-third (+30.8%). One-quarter (25%) of limited-service restaurants were closed at some point in May falling from 31% in April. Just over one-tenth (11%) were closed for the entire month of May, compared with 18% who were close for the entire month of April. Since March, limited-service restaurants saw the least-pronounced drop in sales in percentage terms, with sales buoyed by take-out and delivery.

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Full-service restaurant sales increased by more than half in May 2020 (+51.4%) compared with April, although sales are still less than half the size (40%) of limited-service sales where they are usually similar in normal times. As dining rooms and patios began to open in parts of the country and other restaurants relied on take-out and delivery, sales began to recover. Less than half (44%) of full-service restaurants were closed for part of May compared with 65% in April. One-fifth (21%) were closed for the entire month of May compared with 47% closed for the whole month of April.

The largest increases in dollar terms were reported at limited-service restaurants (+30.8%) followed by full-service restaurants (+51.4%), special food services (+8.3%) and drinking places (+155.6%).

Sales of special food services saw a small increase (+8.3%) as schools and businesses continued to be closed and flights, sporting events, concerts, and events such as conferences and weddings were cancelled or postponed. Almost half (49%) of special food services reported being closed for part of May compared with 60% in April. One-third (34%) reported being closed for the entire month of May, compared with 49% being closed for the entire month of April.

Prices for food purchased from restaurants were up 2.2% in May 2020 compared with May 2019, and prices for alcoholic beverages served in licensed establishments increased 2.1% in the same period.

Sales at drinking places saw the largest rebound in percentage terms (+155.6%), even though many nightclubs and bars continued to be closed throughout the month. Most (85%) drinking places were closed at some point in May compared with 89% in April. Some reopened throughout the month so that 59% were closed for the entire month of May compared with 79% in April. Sales at drinking places fell by the highest proportion, as nightclubs and bars were closed and many do not have take-away food options.

Every province and territory reported an increase in sales in May 2020. Ontario (+29.2%), Quebec (+45.4%), British Columbia (+42.4%) and Alberta (+37.4%) reported the largest increases in dollar terms.

The figures in this section are based on unadjusted (that is, not seasonally adjusted) estimates.

Due to the effects of COVID-19 on the food services and drinking places subsector, unadjusted sales for May 2020 were down by half (-49.9%) compared with May 2019. Sales fell in each of the following industry groups: full-service restaurants (-68.9%); limited-service restaurants (-24.6%); special food services (-74.3%); and drinking places (-85.4%).

Year-over-year sales decreased in every province, with Ontario (-52.8%), Quebec (-56.5%), British Columbia (-48.4%) and Alberta (-42.4%) reporting the largest dollar declines. Nova Scotia (-48.0%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-43.4%) also showed large declines.

Prices for food purchased from restaurants were up 2.2% in May 2020 compared with May 2019, and prices for alcoholic beverages served in licensed establishments increased 2.1% in the same period.

Background

In March, a sequence of unprecedented government interventions was put in place related to COVID-19, including the closure of non-essential businesses, travel restrictions, and public health measures directing Canadians to limit public interactions. During this time, all provinces restricted access and implemented closures to businesses in the restaurant industry, which continued for the entire month of April. In May, businesses continued to reopen offering take-out options, while some provinces—including Manitoba, New Brunswick, Alberta and British Columbia—allowed dine-in and patio services under strict guidelines. Based on respondent feedback, 42% of food service and drinking place operators reported being closed at some point in May, compared with 56% in April. Also, 22% reported being closed for the entire month of May, compared with 41% being closed for the entire month of April.