Foodservice Equipment Reports

Canadian Restaurant Association Launches Outlook Survey

We’ve been reporting for years about the U.S. restaurant market thanks to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index. Going forward, we’ll be able to report about the Canadian market, too. The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association has launched a new Restaurant Outlook Survey. The quarterly survey of Canadian restaurant operators will track current and future sales trends, food, labor and other costs, menu prices, staffing levels and other factors affecting the industry. The group will offer indexes of current performance and future expectations. CRFA represents more than 30,000 members throughout Canada.

The fourth quarter survey showed a distinct softening of the restaurant market in Canada. Same-store sales fell 0.1% on a year-over-year basis, following a 0.6% increase in the third quarter. All three months of the quarter saw declines in same-store sales. The percentage of operators that expect their same-store sales to slow over the next six months also jumped dramatically to 31% from 19% in the third quarter, while those expecting increases dropped 22% from 28% in the third quarter.

The current economic trends in Canada are quite different from those in the U.S. Many forecasters have lowered their estimates of Canadian economic growth for 2012. The economy lost 54,000 jobs in the fourth quarter and consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level in two-and-a-half years, CRFA reported. The softening economic environment has also put many operators in a bind. More than three-quarters of those surveyed noted that rising food costs are negatively affecting their business, but they are hesitant to raise menu prices. Nearly 54% said they have no intention of raising prices during the next six months. Canadian operators have also been battered but significant increases in minimum wages. More than two-thirds cited higher labor costs as having a negative impact.

For information on CRFA’s Restaurant Outlook Survey, visit the group’s website at crfa.ca.

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