indicatorThe Owl

Restaurant and bar sales steady in August

Revenues were up by 15.2% year-to-date relative to the first eight months of 2022

By Siddhartha Bhattacharya, ATB Economics 26 October 2023 1 min read

New data from Statistics Canada show that restaurant and bar sales in Alberta fared better than most other provinces in August.

Following back-to-back gains in June and July, receipts* at Alberta's food services and drinking places held mostly steady (-0.1%) in August while they fell back by 1.0% nationally.

Revenues, however, continued to soar above last year’s levels, rising 10.7% over August 2022. Relative to the first eight months of 2022, restaurant and bar sales were up by 15.2% year-to-date (YTD) in Alberta. Sales are now 19.3% above pre-pandemic levels.

Part of the gain reflects higher menu prices. Adjusting for price growth,** real sales rose 8.4% YTD in both Alberta and Canada.

Signs of a slowdown, however, are clear in the face of headwinds such as high borrowing costs, which limit income available for more discretionary purchases. Real sales in August remained 2.5% below the peak reached earlier this year, which was a trend reflected nationally as well.

In last week’s Monetary Policy Report, the Bank of Canada noted that Canadians are scaling back purchases on more interest sensitive goods (with the exception of autos), and less so when it comes to services. Going forward, consumers seem more inclined to spend on services than bigger ticket purchases typically financed by borrowing (Consumer Expectations Survey). 

*All data in today’s Owl have been adjusted for seasonal variation.

**Estimated by deflating sales by “food purchased at restaurants” prices in the Consumer Price Index for Alberta and Canada.

Answer to the previous trivia question: The 2023 World Series is being played by the American League champion Texas Rangers and the National League champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

Today’s trivia question: According to Guinness World Records, the world champion for eating out was Fred E. Magel of Chicago. How many restaurants did he eat at over a 50-year period?

Alberta’s seasonally-adjusted restaurant and bar sales held mostly unchanged at $1.0 billion in August

Alberta’s seasonally-adjusted restaurant and bar sales held mostly unchanged at $1.0 billion in August

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