Restaurant sales surpass pre-COVID-19 levels: StatCan

Sales at restaurants and bars in this country have surpassed their pre-COVID-19 levels for the first time since the start of the pandemic, according to Statistics Canada.

New data released on Tuesday shows that Canadian restaurant and bar sales rose 6.5% monthly in March to $6.8 billion. Year over year, sales increased 35% from March 2021, 62.9% from March 2020 and 4.9% from March 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic .

The rise in restaurant and bar sales in March this year came as pandemic-related restrictions eased across the country. Ontario saw the largest dollar increase, while Manitoba saw the largest percentage increase.

The increase in sales also coincided with soaring inflation and rising food prices across the country. According to Statistics Canada, restaurant food prices rose 5.4% in March 2022 compared to March 2021, while prices for alcoholic beverages served in licensed establishments rose 3.6% in March 2022. during the same period.

According to industry group Restaurants Canada, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant sector in Canada was a $95 billion industry that directly employed 1.2 million people. Over the more than two years of the pandemic and varying levels of public health restrictions on in-person dining across the country, the industry has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in sales.

In a press release last month, Restaurants Canada said it continued to seek an extension of loan relief and repayment to help revive the foodservice industry.

The industry group said 80% of restaurants have gone into debt due to COVID-19, and nearly two-thirds of those businesses say they will need at least a year and a half to recover.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 31, 2022.

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