Feb. 7, 2013

TORONTO – Despite concerns about the economy in the fourth quarter of 2012, most Canadian restaurant operators plan to maintain or add to their current staffing levels, according to the Restaurant Outlook Survey released today by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA). The Restaurant Outlook Survey for Q4 of 2012 shows 58% of restaurateurs believe a weak economy is affecting their business, up from 45% in Q3. Nevertheless, 62% of operators plan to hold employment levels steady for the next six months, while 16% expect to hire more employees.

“Clearly our members had cause for concern given the economic uncertainty late last year,” says Garth Whyte, CRFA President and CEO. “On the bright side, the U.S. has averted its fiscal cliff crisis, which means consumer confidence should be improving.”

Food costs moderate
Historically, rising food and labour costs have been the top two factors affecting business in CRFA’s survey. The weak economy took the number two spot in Q4, moving labour costs to third place. While food costs remain the biggest concern for operators, they were cited by 64% of respondents in Q4 compared to 74% in Q3.

“Food costs are moderating, which gives the industry some comfort,” says Whyte. “However, they are still high on a historical basis. The good news for Canadians is that most operators are planning to hold menu prices and employment levels steady – which means restaurants will continue to play a key role in communities across the country.”

Survey highlights
Other results from Q4 of 2012 show various factors affected the industry:

  • 26% of respondents reported weak customer demand;
  • 23% were affected by bad weather, up from just 12% in Q3;
  • 27% were impacted by rising gas prices, down from 35% in Q3; and
  • 17% were hurt by the NHL Lockout.

About the survey
CRFA’s Restaurant Outlooks Survey tracks business conditions for nearly 4,800 foodservice establishments across Canada. For more results, click here. (PDF)

CRFA is one of Canada’s largest business associations, with more than 30,000 members representing restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and other foodservice providers. Canada’s restaurant industry employs more than one million people in communities across the country.


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