Pent-up demand for restaurant dining in Canada continues in April
June 10, 2022
By Bakers Journal
Canadians made 75 million more food-service visits in April compared to a year ago
Toronto — Canadians made 75 million more food-service visits this April than last year when most of the country was still in lockdown, The NPD Group reports.
Online and physical visits to bakery-cafés, restaurants and other commercial food-service outlets increased by 18 per cent in April 2022 compared to a year ago, although still 10 per cent below the pre-pandemic level in April 2019. Consumer spending at food-service outlets, which reflects higher food and operational costs, is up 32 per cent compared to a year ago and down two per cent from April 2019, according to NPD’s continual tracking of the Canadian food-service industry.
Carry-out and drive-thru orders, which soared during the pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, softened in April while dining at restaurants and other food-service outlets grew. Dine-in visits increased by 291 per cent in April compared to a year ago, and carry-out and drive-thru orders declined by six per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. Delivery and digital ordering, other pandemic lifelines for commercial food service, were flat and down one per cent, respectively.
Full-service restaurant visits, still recovering from steep declines during pandemic lockdowns, grew by 62 per cent in April compared to a year ago, although still down 17 per cent from April 2019. Quick-service restaurant visits increased by 11 per cent in the month over a year ago, down eight per cent from the pre-pandemic level in April 2019. Retail foodservice, prepared, ready-to-eat foods from grocers, convenience stores, and other retail outlets, were up four per cent in April compared to the same period a year ago, down four per cent from April 2019.
Supper had the most significant boost of food-service meal times in April, with visits up 27 per cent compared to a year ago. With more Canadians returning to worksites and out and about, lunch traffic improved by 19 per cent over last year, and morning meal, including breakfast and AM snack, grew visits by 18 per cent in April 2022 compared to April last year.
“The Canadian food-service recovery endures,” said Vince Sgabellone, NPD food-service industry analyst. “In April, people continued to return to restaurants exactly as we expected. The big issue on the minds of so many Canadians is the economy — rising inflation and interest rates, supply-chain instability, and general uncertainty. These issues could stall the current food-service industry’s recovery at some point. Still, in the meantime, the industry is poised to continue riding this wave of pent-up demand and increased mobility right into the patio season.”
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