Foodservice significantly lagging other industries in economic recovery

Published October 2, 2020

Canada’s foodservice industry is lagging significantly behind nearly every other industry when it comes to the recovery in economic output and employment.

With the release of the July economic data from Statistics Canada last week, real economic activity (gross domestic product) for the foodservice industry was 33% below pre-COVID-19 levels in February 2020. In contrast, overall economic activity for all industries is much closer to a full recovery, being down by 6%.

In terms of employment, foodservice has the furthest way to go to return to pre-COVID-19 levels out of any industry. In August 2020, employment in the restaurant and hospitality industry was 260,000 jobs below February 2020 levels. This represents, by far, the largest job loss gap of any industry. As a percentage of employment, foodservice and hospitality are 21% below pre-COVID-19 levels while all other industries are down an average of 5%.

Since the reopening of restaurants and drinking places, the decline in commercial foodservice sales in Canada has steadily improved: from a 62.3% year-over-year decline in April 2020 to a 24.5% decline in July 2020.  Yet, seasonally adjusted foodservice sales in July remain 27% below the sales levels in February 2020. In contrast, retail sales returned to pre-COVID-19 levels in June, and in July, were 1% above pre-COVID-19 levels.

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