Impact of COVID-19 devastates restaurant industry

Published April 20, 2020

According to Restaurants Canada’s latest Restaurant Outlook Survey, respondents saw their sales plummet over the course of mid-February to the end of March. This is on the heels of a challenging 2019 when the foodservice industry struggled with lower same-store sales throughout the year. As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases soared in February and March 2020, a greater share of restaurant operators reported lower same-store sales compared to the same period last year.

In the first two weeks of February, nearly half (46%) of respondents reported that their same-store sales were lower compared to the same period in 2019. Although there were only a few confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada at the time, 24% of respondents said their business was negatively impacted by COVID-19.

With the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in early March, 78% of foodservice operators surveyed reported lower same-store sales between March 1, 2020 and March 15, 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

In the final two weeks of March, 96% of respondents reported lower same-store sales compared to the same period in 2019. Based on those that provided data, average same-store sales plummeted by 72% compared to the same two weeks in March 2019.

At the end of March, lower revenues and social distancing measures imposed by governments resulted in 53% of respondents closing down their entire operation temporarily. While some restaurants remain open for delivery and takeout, many have laid-off workers or cut back staff hours to zero.

As a result, an estimated 800,000 foodservice employees are either laid off or not currently working.  

The survey also found that if current conditions persist over the next 30 days, 18% of respondents said their business would close down permanently in less than a month. This is on top of the nearly 10% of respondents that said they have already closed down permanently.

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Restaurants Canada Digital

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