Independent restaurants drive foodservice sales in major cities

By Asad Amin, Vice President Ipsos Foodservice Monitor

Independent restaurants are upping their game across all major cities. According to new research from Ipsos FSM, independent restaurants in Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal all posted double-digit sales growth in the 12 months ending March 2017 over the same period a year ago. However, each city has its unique sales and dining trends. Let’s take you on a tour!

Overall sales and traffic growth in Toronto is flat. Visits to full-service restaurant (FSR) and quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains are softening, particularly at the former. This trend could be due to competition from independents, which are showing strong growth in the country’s largest foodservice market.

The younger workforce that flocked to the city during the oil boom, and remained after its economic slowdown, is likely helping foodservice sales recover. Calgary’s FSRs draw a higher proportion of customers under 35, compared to the rest of Alberta – and this share is only growing.

Lunch is a key driver of growth. Calgary is the only city among the six reviewed where lunch dollars outshine dinner.

Overall checks have remained steady in Montreal. Visits and dollars are declining during dinner, but afternoon and evening snacking occasions are growing, and performing better compared to the rest of Quebec. Poutine and bagels are still among the fastest-growing items on the menu.

Revenue performance in Edmonton is soft across all restaurants. Foodservice occasions in this city heavily depend on dinner, as its share of dollars are higher than the rest of Alberta and the other five cities reviewed. However, sales share during this key occasion is softening due to growth at lunch. Edmontonians are also drawn to convenience across all foodservice outlets, so this factor could be a key consideration for growth.

The Capital is showing healthy growth in restaurant dollars. This growth is likely due to FSRs accounting for a higher proportion of foodservice revenue, which makes Ottawa unique in this group of cities. If you are interested in opening a restaurant in Ottawa, keep in mind that residents consider restaurant occasions more social than those in the rest of the province and other key cities.

Vancouver’s restaurants have enjoyed healthy performance. FSRs have seen a softening in sales, making their share of the restaurant dollar equal to QSRs. Quick-service restaurants and independents are both seeing growth, as are lunch and dinner occasions.

2017 Ipsos Foodservice Monitor City Reports

Ipsos FSM has released a set of market facts covering six key Canadian cities. These include:

– Toronto
– Calgary
– Edmonton
– Vancouver
– Montreal
– Ottawa

The reports include top line market performance across the following: quick service, coffee shop and full service restaurant foodservice channels. Information is provided on:

– Channel occasions and dollars
– Top foodservice operators
– Top menu items: growing and declining
– Share of eaters and dollars by day-part and week-part
– Average check size
– Place of consumption
– Methods of payment
– Restaurant party age, gender and presence of kids
– Visit motivators
– Information sources

View a sample copy of the report

Order Your Copy Today

To order a copy of the report or for more information, please contact Asad Amin at, or 416-324-2104.

For Restaurants Canada members – $500 (plus taxes) per city report
For non-members – $1,000 (plus taxes) per city report