Restaurant and bar sales edge up in August but winter is coming
While it is good to see sales going up, five problems continue to dog the sector
By ATB Economics 23 October 2020 1 min read
Seasonally adjusted* sales at Alberta’s restaurants and bars were up by 5.5 per cent ($35.5 million) in August compared to July. Monthly sales have almost doubled since April when public health restrictions kept many restaurants and bars completely closed.
While it is good to see sales going up, five problems continue to dog the sector.
First, the negative impact of the pandemic was still evident in August with year-over-year sales off by 17.9 per cent ($149.1 million).
Second, there was still a $1.6 billion hole to be filled with year-to-date sales 24.4 per cent lower than they were over the same period last year.
Third, the restaurant and bar sector is heading into the winter months when it will be harder to add physically distanced capacity via outdoor seating.
Fourth, as of late October, we have been seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and this could lead to the reintroduction of public health measures that restrict restaurant and bar operations and more customers voluntarily staying home.
Fifth, with international and business travel still at a crawl, this customer base remains much smaller than usual. The same is true for establishments located in or near office buildings as working from home continues to disrupt normal dining out patterns.
On the bright side, many Albertans continue to partake of the food and beverages offered by our restaurants and bars and some establishments are likely doing okay. Overall, however, the sector faces a disturbingly long list of challenges.
*According to Statistics Canada, “seasonally adjusted data are data that have been modified to eliminate the effect of seasonal and calendar influences to allow for more meaningful comparisons of economic conditions from period to period.”