Media Releases Feb 18, 2021

Empty tables don’t pay bills: new data reveals ongoing decline in food services


(OTTAWA) – February 18, 2021 – The Canadian Chamber of Commerce today commented on newly released data from Statistics Canada reconfirming that the food service sector has been disproportionally harmed by the ongoing pandemic.

Today’s data speaks to the stark year-over-year comparisons for the sector, revealing a precipitous drop in sales between December 2019 and December 2020:

  • Total food service sales are down over 35% ($6.5b vs $4.2b)
  • Full service restaurant sales are down over 50% ($2.9b vs $1.4b)
  • Drinking place sales are down over 64% ($221m vs $78m)

“Restaurants were some of the very first businesses to be hit by the pandemic and broad-based business restrictions last March. As this new data shows, the food services sector continues to be severely weakened,” commented Alla Drigola, Director of Parliamentary Affairs and SME Policy. “Canada’s restaurants are predominantly small businesses that have limited cash reserves and are at their debt limits. The need for targeted supports to help them weather the storm is urgent.”

An example of a targeted support includes providing a temporary and targeted consumption tax holiday to boost consumer spending for this and other hard hit sectors.

Patrick Gill, Senior Director of Tax and Financial Policy, adds: “At the very minimum, government policies right now must do no further harm to this sector. Ottawa’s looming alcohol excise tax increase, currently scheduled for April 1, would only exacerbate the challenges these businesses are facing. Freezing the alcohol tax and using tax policies to help these businesses survive – and eventually recover – is vital

In addition to its repeated calls for targeted supports from government, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has now also brought together 20 CEOs and senior executives from leading companies to form the COVID-19 Recovery Leadership Council. The group will help accelerate the deployment of COVID-19 mitigation tools by connecting companies creating vaccines, delivering testing, tracing and other support programs for the businesses requiring these services.

About the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Because Business Matters

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce helps build the businesses that support our families, our communities and our country. We do this by influencing government policy, by providing essential business services and by connecting businesses to information they can use, to opportunities for growth and to a network of local chambers, businesses, decision-makers and peers from across the country, in every sector of the economy and at all levels of government, as well as internationally. We are unapologetic in our support for business and the vital role it plays in building and sustaining our great nation.

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For more information, please contact:

Phil Taylor

ptaylor@chamber.ca