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Nearly half of Canadians plan to return to restaurants as pandemic restrictions relax


Nearly half of Canadians – 46 per cent – plan to physically eat at a restaurant, bar or coffee shop now that COVID-19 restrictions have been eased says a poll by The NPD Group.

Dine-in or on-premises restaurant orders/visits have improved since the beginning of the pandemic but, as a basis for comparison, were still down -85 per cent in April 2021 compared to April 2019. Off-premises orders and visits, which include carry-out, drive-thru and delivery, were up +28 per cent in April compared to two years ago.

Total commercial food-service orders/traffic across Canada was down -23 per cent in April compared to April 2019, according to NPD’s continual tracking of the Canadian industry.

Spending time with friends is what 46 per cent of consumers told NPD they miss the most about visiting restaurants and food-service outlets. Spending time with family and relatives was what 36 per cent of Canadians miss. Over one-third of consumers said they miss eating something special that they can’t cook at home.

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Since the pandemic isn’t over, 50 per cent of Canadians say that good hygiene at restaurants will be more important to them than before the pandemic, which is particularly important to older consumers. Supporting local and independent restaurants and the local economy was important to 44 per cent of consumers.

“As we approach our ‘1 Dose Summer’ with some provinces already reopening, Canadians will have the opportunity to socialize with their family and friends at their favourite restaurants,” said Vince Sgabellone, NPD food-service industry analyst. “We can also expect to see the on-premises traffic deficits shrink in the coming months. Although even with restrictions lifting, the growth in digital will continue now that some consumers are accustomed to ordering online.”