Restaurants Canada’s Consumer Dining Index improved in February and rose by 15.4 points to 90.5 (July 2022 = 100). This represents the highest level since October 2022. Beginning next month, Restaurants Canada will be able to track dining trends on a year-over-year basis, which will remove the seasonal influence.
After slumping in January, a greater share of Canadians purchased breakfast or lunch from a restaurant at least once in February, both rising 7 percentage points. A higher share purchased dinner from a restaurant once a week or more, climbing from 22% in January to 30% in February. While the rebound was seen across all age groups and regions, it was the 18 to 34-year-olds that led the charge.
Apart from celebrating Valentine’s Day, more Canadians were in the mood to dine out in February due to an improvement in economic sentiment. Recent data from Angus Reid show that fewer Canadians believe that they are about to enter a recession (40% in February compared to 48% in January). In addition, with unemployment at its lowest level in more than four decades combined with higher wages, consumers are spending at a stronger-than-expected pace.
While traffic has improved, it remains below pre-pandemic levels. In addition, soaring operating costs mean that 28% of restaurants are still operating at a loss, while another 15% are just managing to break even. This is quite a long way from pre-pandemic levels when only 7% of all restaurants were operating at a loss, and 5% were breaking even.
Restaurants Canada’s Consumer Dining Index is based on a monthly survey of 1500 Canadians, and is calculated as a weighted average of the number of times Canadians purchased a meal or snack from a restaurant in the past month, and then indexed to July 2022.