Restaurants Canada Q2 Report: Costs Soar, While Traffic Trails Off

Toronto, June 25, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The foodservice industry has faced numerous challenges in recent years, but what stands out in the Q2 Report of 2024 is the one-two punch of weaker consumer spending coinciding with operating costs at an unprecedented high.

The first half of 2024 has been difficult as the combined impact of fewer visits and high operating costs are hitting all at once. Running a restaurant has never been more costly. Traditionally, this industry operates on slim profit margins, and the record-high cost of food and less discretionary spending in the pockets of consumers, is causing extraordinary strain.

Key findings from the report indicate food and labour costs remain the top challenges facing most restaurant owners. When asked, the average restaurant company reported their total food costs have increased by 25% over the last two years, while labour costs increased by 18%.  Many operators find themselves at a crossroads, contemplating raising menu prices to offset the high food costs, but fear that will only further discourage people from visiting. 

Operators do everything they can to keep costs from being passed down, but that has also resulted in higher bankruptcies. In April 2024, 74 restaurants declared bankruptcy compared to 53 in April 2023. The true number of closures would be even higher as many restaurants opt to close their doors without formally declaring bankruptcy.

A Call for Relief

To mitigate these challenges facing the industry, protect the jobs, our tourism product and community gathering places, Restaurants Canada is advocating for several measures that would ease the burden on operators.
“Immediate federal government interventions are crucial to ensure the sustainability of this vital sector.  Initiatives such as lowering the EI Premium can provide critical relief,” said Kelly Higginson, President and CEO Restaurants Canada. “In addition, facilitating a program to match and train open-work permit holders with employment opportunities in restaurants is another strategic move to sustain the foodservice sector,” added Higginson, noting the urgent need for solutions.

Operator Sentiment

The outlook for the future fluctuates by segment of the foodservice industry. Overall, 43% of quick-service restaurant companies say they are positive and hopeful about the future, compared to 29% of table-service restaurants. However, even when respondents are hopeful, it is usually met with some trepidation, as one restauranteur stated: “If we can get a handle on rising food costs and labour shortages, we will survive.”

Media wishing to read the full report, may reach out for access.

About Restaurants Canada
Since 1944 Restaurants Canada is a national, not-for-profit member-based trade association advancing the potential of Canada’s diverse and dynamic foodservice industry through member programs, research, advocacy, resources and events. Canada’s foodservice sector is a $114 billion industry that serves 22 million customers across the country every day. As the fourth-largest private-sector employer, Canadian foodservice directly employs nearly 1.2 million people, and indirectly supporting another 270,700+ jobs in related industries, with $38 billion in food and beverage products purchased every year.

CONTACT: Annette Goerner
Restaurants Canada