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Uncertainty Is The Only Certainty

What does the next normal look like for Canada’s restaurant industry?

Well, the 2020 Foodservice Facts Report released by Restaurants Canada sheds some light on this question.

Chris Elliott, senior economist at Restaurants Canada, observed: “The greatest challenge our industry will face is the uncertainty that this crisis will have on restaurant businesses and how long the effects will last.”

And Elliott added: “The foodservice industry will change from what we’ve known and continue to pivot and adapt its business model to survive.”

In 2019, foodservice generated over $93 billion in sales and was on track to surpass $100 billion in sales in 2021.

However, due to the pandemic, Restaurants Canada says that the restaurant industry could now lose between $21.7 billion and $44.8 billion in annual sales this year.

Elliott notes that: “The range in the forecast reflects tremendous uncertainty as the industry heads into fall and winter. Restaurants are likely to see a further erosion in sales in the coming months with patio season ending and possible consumer trepidation about indoor dining. A second wave of confirmed COVID-19 cases would potentially lead to sharply lower sales.”

While all of this will lead to further permanent restaurant closures, trends we saw pre-COVID were accelerated and may present opportunities to restaurants who have the ability to pivot their business as we move forward in the new normal.

Findings from the Foodservice Facts Report offer insights and results from these trends:

  • At the height of the crisis in April 2020, on premise orders accounted for a mere 4% of sales compared to more than 50% in 2019.
  • ‘Ghost Kitchens’ present an opportunity for brands to operate with no storefront and focus entirely on delivery through mobile and online platforms
  • 60% of customers surveyed show interest in ordering delivery from a ghost kitchen.
  • Nearly one in five restaurants have diversified and will continue to sell meal kits going forward.
  • More than half of restaurants offering contactless payment options and contactless pick-up/curbside pick-up.

Elliott says that: “The strength of Canada’s restaurant industry is its creativity and sheer determination. While restaurant sales will one day return to pre-COVID-19 levels, the industry will be vastly different from before.”

And Elliott observes: “In the coming years, we will see the acceleration of many trends, such as the rise in ghost kitchens, alcohol delivery and the adoption of technology as restaurants focus on raising productivity.”

Go to www.restaurantscanada.org for more.

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