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Carry-out, drive-thru and delivery growth areas for Canadian restaurants and bakery-cafés: NPD Group

December 6, 2021  By Bakers Journal


Online and physical visits to Canadian restaurants and food-service outlets were flat in the year ending September 2021 compared to a year ago when traffic was down double-digits.

Helping the industry recover was the growth in food-service off-premises orders from carry-out, drive-thru, and delivery, reports The NPD Group. Although food-service traffic has improved from the steep declines experienced last year, visits were 18 per cent below the pre-pandemic level in September 2019, according to NPD’s continual tracking of the Canadian food-service industry.

Off-premises modes were a lifeline for the food-service industry during the height of the pandemic, and more restaurants and food-service outlets have since expanded these offerings or added them. In the year ending September 2021, off-premises represented 83 per cent of all food-service visits. Carry-out, which holds 46 per cent of food-service traffic, increased by 23 per cent in the period over last year. Drive-thru, representing 28 per cent of visits, increased by 14 per cent, and delivery, which represents eight per cent of traffic, grew by 27 percent, NPD reports.

Quick-service restaurants, most of which had well-developed off-premises operations in place before the pandemic, benefited from the growth in off-premises visits. Online and physical visits to QSRs grew by four per cent in the year ending September 2021 and were down 11 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. Full-service visits, which rely on dine-in traffic, are improving compared to a year ago but were down minus per cent in the reporting period compared to a year ago and down 31 per cent from the year ending September 2019.

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“When the weather chases Canadians back into their homes, restaurant visits will, as they always do, trend downward,” says Vince Sgabellone, NPD food-service industry analyst.” That doesn’t mean the industry cannot continue to make up for lost ground. A focus on new industry realities like safety protocols, digital ordering, and non-traditional business solutions like meal kits will continue to deliver dividends. When paired with traditional business drivers like good service, food quality and value, these initiatives will help the industry finish 2021 on a high note.”


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