Restaurants Canada’s latest industry forecast predicts that commercial foodservice sales will grow to $80.4 billion across the country in 2022. That would be a 24.3 per cent increase over 2021 and would result in annual sales that are 4.4 per cent above 2019 levels.
A Restaurants Canada release says the forecast for 2022 reflects the continued progress in vaccination rollouts and that most public health restrictions are expected to ease over the remainder of 2021 and early 2022. It adds that the growth in sales will also likely be bolstered by expected gains in real GDP and pent-up consumer demand.
However, despite the significant increase expected in 2022, commercial foodservice sales are forecast to remain below their long-term trend over the next few years.
Annual sales at quick-service restaurants are expected to grow to $36 billion in 2022, a 6.7 per cent increase above 2019 levels. In contrast, annual sales at full-service restaurants are forecast to advance to $35.4 billion in 2022, a smaller jump of 3.2 per cent above 2019 levels.
Looking back at this past year, annual commercial foodservice sales are now expected to rise to nearly $64.7 billion, representing a 17.3 per cent increase over 2020, but still 16.1 per cent below 2019 levels. This is roughly $1 billion more than Restaurants Canada’s previous forecast, which called for sales of $63.9 billion in 2021. This reflects stronger-than-expected sales in the summer months.
In the near term, foodservice sales will continue to be weighed down by the impact of the Delta variant and supply chain disruptions impacting economic activity. In addition, despite an expected continued recovery in sales, foodservice operators continue to face a number of challenges, ranging from rising operating expenses (food and labour), severe labour shortages and tackling the accumulated debt during the pandemic.
As such, Restaurants Canada has called on the federal government to provide adequate support for restaurants through the winter.
“Restaurants are key to reviving main streets across Canada and feeding our country’s economic recovery, but first they need to survive,” said President and CEO Todd Barclay. “Federal support programs are currently too restrictive and will leave far too many hardworking restaurant operators out in the cold as they continue to cope with the ongoing pandemic. While our government has been on a break, the 90,000+ small and medium-sized businesses that make up our critically important foodservice sector have been fighting to keep their doors open. They deserve federal support programs that will help them continue contributing to the social and economic fabric of their communities.”
Restaurants Canada notes that its latest data found that 90 per cent of foodservice businesses have relied on federal rent and wage subsidies to help them survive the pandemic, but only 20 per cent qualify for the new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program. In addition, eight out of 10 operations have either been consistently losing money ever since the first wave of lockdowns ended last year, or scraping by with a profit margin of two per cent or less.
Without better access to financial support, says the association, most foodservice businesses will struggle to keep paying their staff, and many will even have to consider closing down for good under the weight of crushing debt.
Restaurants Canada has recommended several measures to combat this, including an eligibility threshold starting at 10 per cent (instead of 40 per cent) revenue decline for the new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program with a boosted wage subsidy rate, as well as greater forgiveness for all government-backed business loans and an extension of the repayment deadlines for loans through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).