Eased indoor dining restrictions amounted to 10.5 million additional dine-in restaurant visits in February versus January

Toronto, April 7, 2021 — The pent-up demand for indoor dining was evident in February after dine-in restrictions were eased in Canada’s largest provinces. Dine-in restaurant visits increased by 4 percentage points in February compared to January, an increase of 10.5 million visits versus prior month. The downside of this news is the still deep traffic declines in on-premises dining. Dine-in visits declined by  -79% in February compared to same month last year and were down  -85% in January compared to last year, according to NPD, which continually tracks consumers’ use of Canadian restaurants and other foodservice outlets.

Off-premises dining, like carry-out, delivery, and drive-thru, has been the beneficiary of the indoor dining restrictions. In January off-premises visits, digital or physical, were up +42% compared to January 2019, and up +32% in February versus same month year ago. There was less off-premises traffic growth in February because visits were lost to on-premises. Digital orders for off-premises services jumped by +149% in February compared to same month year ago.

“The slight easing of restrictions in the largest Canadian provinces immediately helped to generate a lift in on-premises traffic,” says Vince Sgabellone, NPD foodservice industry analyst. “This is further evidence that consumers are anxiously awaiting the return to indoor dining, and they will be there when the doors open.”