TORONTO, June 14, 2021 — Canadians were anxiously awaiting COVID lockdowns and restrictions to be eased and lifted, and so were restaurant operators. It’s been a long 15 months and 46% of Canadians told The NPD Group that they plan to physically eat at a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop now that COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. Restaurant operators are eager to greet them back and pick-up their dine-in business, which was most impacted by mandated pandemic restrictions.

Dine-in or on-premises restaurant orders/visits have improved since the beginning of the pandemic but, as a basis for comparison, were still down -85% in April 2021 compared to April 2019. Off-premises orders and visits, which include carry-out, drive-thru, and delivery, the ordering modes most used during the pandemic, were up +28% in April compared to two years ago.  Total commercial foodservice orders/traffic across Canada was down -23 in April compared to April 2019, according to NPD’s continual tracking of
the Canadian foodservice industry

In addition to the restaurant industry impact, these declines also reflect another aspect of life the pandemic took away — a place to interact with friends and family socially. Spending time with friends is what 46% of consumers told NPD they miss the most about visiting restaurants and foodservice outlets. Spending time with family and relatives was what 36% of Canadians miss. Over a third of consumers said they miss eating something special that they can’t cook at home, one of the primary reasons restaurants are in business. Since the pandemic isn’t over, 50% of Canadians say that good hygiene at restaurants will be more important to them than before the pandemic, which is particularly important to older consumers. Supporting local and independent restaurants and the local economy was important to 44% of consumers.      

“As we approach our ‘1 Dose Summer’ with some provinces already re-opening, Canadians will have the opportunity to socialize with their family and friends at their favourite restaurants,” says Vince
Sgabellone, NPD foodservice industry analyst
. “We can also expect to see the on-premises traffic deficits shrink in the coming months. Although even with restrictions lifting, the growth in digital will continue now that some consumers are accustomed to ordering online.”