Foodservice Equipment Reports

Canadian Restaurant Sales Improved First Quarter

Though average same-store sales rose a mere 0.6% in the first quarter this year compared with the same quarter last year, restaurant operators surveyed by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association are significantly more optimistic about sales growth during the next six months than they were fourth quarter 2011. Nearly 38% of those responding expect their same-store sales to grow at a greater rate during the period, compared with only 22% in the fourth quarter survey. Average same-store sales declined 0.1% in the fourth quarter.

The data comes from CRFA’s new quarterly Restaurant Outlook Survey, launched last year and designed to provide an ongoing index of business performance and expectations of the restaurant industry in Canada.

Same-store sales trends improved dramatically through the quarter, with bad weather in much of the country contributing to a 4.4% decline in comp sales in January. Same-store sales went slightly positive, up 0.3% in February, then jumped to a 3.3% gain in March. For the quarter as a whole, 70% of those responding said their same-store sales improved compared to the first quarter in ’11.

Rising food and labor prices continue to be cited by a majority of operators as their key concerns. The average operator saw food prices increase 3.6% in the quarter versus first quarter ’11, according to the survey, which also mentioned that food price increases in Canada have begun to moderate, as they have in the U.S.

The complete Restaurant Outlook Survey can be found at www.crfa.ca.

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