Food Service, Drinking Establishment Sales Rebounding but Still Down

It continued to get better in July, but Canadian food service and drinking establishment sales remain sharply below the year-ago level.

According to a Statistics Canada report Wednesday, sales in the food services and drinking places subsector increased for the third consecutive month, rising more than 17% (seasonally adjusted) to $4.6 billion in July compared with June. But when comparing July 2020 with the same month last year – prior to the COVID-19 pandemic – unadjusted sales were still down more than one-quarter (-24.5%).

The year-over-year declines have badly hurt the agricultural sector, negatively impacting everything from malt barley to pork and beef and demand.

In the immediate aftermath of the start of the pandemic, restaurant dining rooms were closed across the country, and take-out and delivery became the only available options. But with most businesses across the country now open again, sales rebounded throughout most of the summer. Indeed, just 14% of food service and drinking place operators reported being closed at some point in July, down from 29% in June, 42% in May and 56% in April.

Still, more pain may be ahead. With the summer now official over, the patio season will soon be coming to an end as well. And with the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise, it remains uncertain what measures governments may be forced to take to control the pandemic’s spread.

Year-over-year food service and drinking establishment sales were down in every province in July, with Ontario (-30%), British Columbia (-25.8%) and Quebec (-19.4%) reporting the largest declines in dollar terms. Prince Edward Island (-34.6%) showed the largest decline in percentage terms.

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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