Two Years On, Restaurants Canada Reveals Pandemic Impact
by David Klemt
Restaurants Canada looks at the impact of the pandemic on the foodservice industry in their latest Foodservice Facts report.
Canada’s foodservice industry research and advocacy non-profit sees a return to pre-pandemic operations. However, the path forward toward pre-pandemic traffic and sales levels won’t be without its challenges.
“While nominal sales are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before the end of the year, traffic still remains below what it was before,” says Restaurants Canada president and CEO Christian Buhagiar.
To access your own copy of 2022 Foodservice Facts, click here.
Industry Still Struggling
As an owner, operator, or foodservice professional, you probably have the answer to a specific question in mind.
When will we be “back to normal?” And, of course, the natural followup to that question. Will the industry surpass 2019 traffic and sales?
Restaurants and bars throughout Canada have survived six waves of Covid-19 over the course of two-plus years. There have been an inordinate amount of lockdowns that inarguably forced the permanent closure of far too many businesses.
As Restaurants Canada states (and the rest of us know all too well), there’s no telling if another Covid-19 variant will rear its ugly head. It’s conceivable (but with any luck unlikely) that Canada could face future lockdowns.
At the moment, according to Restaurants Canada, foodservice sales are currently 11 percent below 2019 levels. And yes, that’s after adjustment for inflation. Speaking of which, one reason traffic and sales remain below those of 2019 is consumer confidence. Many Canadians are concerned about a possible recession.
In addition, operators in Canada continue to face a labor shortage.
News Not All Bad
Now, anyone who read the previous section would be justified in lacking confidence in the industry. However, there is good news.
First, let’s compare Q1 of 2022 to Q2. Per Restaurants Canada, just 15 percent of restaurants were able to seat guests with zero restrictions. By April, though, approximately 90 percent of restaurants in Canada could serve in-person guests restriction-free.
Second, Q2 had more positivity in store for operators. According to Restaurants Canada, the FSR segment endured an 18-month decline in traffic when Covid-19 took hold. When restrictions were lifted, the floodgates of consumer demand burst. By Q2, traffic was a mere one percent lower in comparison to 2019.
Going a bit granular, QSR performance also improved in Q2. Per Restaurants Canada, QSR traffic lagged eight percent behind pre-pandemic levels. However, that number improved to just two percent under pre-pandemic levels by Q2.
Compellingly, Q2 still wasn’t done with foodservice industry positivity. While QSRs outpaced FSRs three-fold in terms of traffic, their numbers combined bring the industry back to 2019 Q2 levels.
Restaurant Canada’s positive outlook predicts that the industry will return to pre-pandemic levels by Q4.