Skip to Main Content

Canada’s restaurant industry records lacklustre real sales in March

The combination of weak consumer confidence and high cost of living continued to restrain guest spending at restaurants in March 2024. While nominal sales increased by 5.6% in March compared to last year, when adjusted for menu inflation of 5.1%, real sales rose by a tepid 0.4%. In fact, real sales in March 2024 remained 0.2% below March 2019 levels, as spending at full-service restaurants, caterers and drinking places still have not fully returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The foodservice industry continued to feel the pinch of weaker consumer spending in the first quarter of 2024. As a result, real sales declined at quick-service restaurants (-1.6%) and drinking places (-3.0%). In contrast, caterers led all segments with a 2.8% increase in real sales due to solid gains across most provinces.

Seven provinces reported lower real spending at restaurants. After several years of strong gains, real foodservice sales on Prince Edward Island tumbled by 7.1% due to a moderation in consumer demand. Despite this setback, Prince Edward Island leads the country as real sales are 13.3% above pre-pandemic levels.  Meanwhile, Ontario led all provinces on a year-over-year basis, with real sales up 2.3% compared to March 2023. However, compared to pre-pandemic levels, real foodservice sales are essentially flat (-0.2%).

For more information, Restaurants Canada’s latest Fast Facts can be found here. Look out for the next issue of The Quarterly coming soon.