As lockdowns and other COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift across Canada and vaccination rates continue to rise, more and more guests are willing to return for indoor dining.
According to data from the NPD Group, almost half (46 percent) of Canadians plan to eat physically in a restaurant, bar or coffee shop, given the eased restrictions.
Indoor and restaurant food orders have increased since the pandemic began, but still fell 85 percent in April 2021 compared to April 2019. Meanwhile, off-premises orders and visits, including take-away, drive-thru, and delivery, were up 28 percent over the same period, according to data from the NPD Group.
Overall, total commercial food service orders across Canada fell 23 percent in April compared to April 2019, according to NPD’s continued tracking of the Canadian food service industry.
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Social interaction was missed
It’s not just the food and indoor experience that diners miss when restaurants are closed.
Forty-six percent of consumers told the NPD that they missed spending time with friends most when visiting restaurants and catering establishments, followed by 36 percent who missed time with family and relatives.
Meanwhile, more than a third of consumers said they miss eating something special that they can’t cook at home, one of the top reasons restaurants are in business.
Operators who ensure a hygienic and safe environment will be paramount to winning back customers as 50 percent of Canadians say good hygiene in restaurants will be more important to them than it was before the pandemic. This feeling was most heard among the older population.
Supporting local and independent restaurants and the local economy was important to 44 percent of consumers.
“As we near our ‘1 Can Summer’ and some provinces are already reopening, Canadians will have the opportunity to connect with family and friends in their favorite restaurants,” said Vince Sgabellone, NPD Foodservice Industry Analyst. âWe can also expect the deficits in on-premise traffic to shrink in the coming months. Even if the restrictions are lifted, digital growth will continue as some consumers are used to ordering online. “