Canadian restaurant

Canadian restaurant visits are up over 300% from a year ago

Although prices continue to rise and more and more Canadians are forced to make tough decisions about the spending they can afford, new data from the NPD Group reveals that foodservice industry traffic in Canada reached near pre-pandemic levels in May.

The data found that foodservice traffic was just one per cent off its May 2019 mark. On a year-over-year basis, Canadian restaurant visits and trips to other commercial foodservice outlets increased by 16 per cent between May 2021 and May 2022.

Driving the May traffic growth was a 321 per cent gain in dine-in Canadian restaurant visits compared to a year ago. However, even with this hugely encouraging triple-digit growth, dine-in visits, which were hit hardest by pandemic-related restrictions, are still 28 per cent below May 2019 traffic, according to NPD’s continual tracking of the Canadian foodservice industry.

Off-premises ordering from foodservice outlets — carry-out, drive-thru, and delivery — is currently down from the strong growth experienced during the pandemic lockdown periods but remains significantly above pre-pandemic levels. For example, foodservice delivery was down nine per cent this May compared to a year ago, but orders were 79 per cent above the May 2019 level. 

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Morning meals, which includes breakfast and morning snack periods, were the strongest performing daypart in May, with visits up 24 per cent compared to a year ago and down one per cent from May 2019.

Lunch was close behind with a 21 per cent increase in traffic versus a year ago and an eight per cent decline in visits from three years ago. The lunch visit decline from the pre-pandemic traffic level shows that most consumers have not resumed their pre-COVID routines, like workday lunches, says the NPD Group report. Meanwhile, foodservice visits at supper grew by 14 per cent this May compared to last year and were up seven per cent compared to May 2019.  

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“While the recovery continues to take hold, so does the re-definition of the foodservice landscape,” says Vince Sgabellone, NPD foodservice industry analyst. “The industry needs to adjust to these changes by understanding how consumers currently use foodservice throughout the day and how they will use it in the future.”