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Restaurant and bar sales in Alberta in May

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 27 July 2023 1 min read

Alberta’s restaurant and bar sector—at least in terms of the revenue side of the ledger—is doing much better than last year, but there are also signs that inflation and interest rates are taking a bite out of sales.

After spiking by 6.6% to an all time high in January, monthly sales decreased in three of the next four months including a 0.9% pullback in May (the most recent month for which data are available).*

Despite the recent pullback, sales are still up sharply compared to 2022.

Year-over-year (y/y) sales have increased 27 months in a row, including a 12.4% rise in May.

Within the sector, the value of bar sales barely budged compared to last May (+0.1%). Growth instead came from full-services restaurants (+10.5%), limited-service eating places (+14.4%), and special food services** (+25.4%).

Similarly, year-to-date (YTD) sales were up by 17.3% over the first five months of 2023 compared to the same period last year.

Taking into account restaurant price inflation, the overall trends are essentially the same, but with a larger month-over-month drop (-1.6%) and more muted growth compared to last May (+5.5%) and on a YTD basis (+9.9%).

Restaurant and bar sales were basically flat nationally in May (+0.3%) with receipts down in eight provinces. However, they were still 10.6% higher than in May 2022.

On the one hand, it is great to see the sector’s revenue so much higher than last year. On the other hand, sales have come off the peak level set in January and are showing signs of slowing.

*Monthly figures have been adjusted for seasonality to capture normal month-to-month fluctuations in sales.

**Special food services include caterers, mobile food services (e.g. food trucks), and contractors (e.g. food concessions at sports facilities and businesses providing food services to airlines).

Answer to the previous trivia question: Pubilius Syrus (85 BC - 43 BC) said “everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.”

Today’s trivia question: What is the name of the diner frequented by Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer on the TV series “Seinfeld?”

Restaurant and bar sales in Alberta are above where they were before the pandemic even after adjusting for higher menu prices

Restaurant and bar sales in Alberta are above where they were before the pandemic even after adjusting for higher menu prices

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