As closures and other restrictions related to COVID-19 begin to lift across Canada and vaccination rates continue to rise, more customers are ready to return to eat indoors.
According to data from the NPD Group, nearly half (46 percent) of Canadians plan to physically eat at a restaurant, bar or café in light of the relaxed restrictions.
Orders for in-room meals and on-site restaurants have increased since the start of the pandemic, but were still down 85% in April 2021 compared to April 2019. Meanwhile, orders and off-establishment visits, including including takeout, drive-thru and delivery, were up 28% over the same period, according to data from the NPD Group.
Overall, total commercial foodservice orders in Canada were down 23% in April from April 2019, according to NPD’s ongoing monitoring of the Canadian foodservice industry.
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Social interaction was missed
It’s not just the food and experience inside that customers miss with restaurants closing.
46% of consumers told NPD that spending time with friends is what they miss most when visiting restaurants and food outlets, followed by 36% citing spending time with family and loved ones.
Meanwhile, more than a third of consumers said they were missing out on eating something special that they couldn’t cook at home, one of the main reasons restaurants are in business.
Operators ensuring a hygienic and safe environment will be of paramount importance in attracting customers, as 50 percent of Canadians say good hygiene in restaurants will be more important to them than before the pandemic. This sentiment has been heard most among the elderly.
Support for local and independent restaurants and the local economy was important to 44% of consumers.
“As our ‘1 Summer Dose’ approaches with the reopening of some provinces, Canadians will have the opportunity to socialize with family and friends at their favorite restaurants,” said Vince Sgabellone, analyst for the NPD food service industry. “We can also expect to see the on-site traffic deficits narrow in the coming months. Even with the restrictions lifted, digital growth will continue now that some consumers are accustomed to ordering online. “