Survey: Extreme winter weather takes toll on restaurant sales

In CRFA's latest Restaurant Outlook Survey, 33 per cent of restaurateurs blamed bad weather for hurting business in the last quarter of 2013. This percentage nearly doubles for December alone. (CNW Group/Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association)

TORONTO, Jan. 28, 2014 /CNW/ - The lingering polar vortex and continued economic uncertainty have dulled the business outlook for restaurateurs.

In the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association's (CRFA's) Restaurant Outlook Survey for Q4 of 2013, 61 per cent of operators noted bad weather in December hurt business. More than one-third of restaurateurs (37 per cent) reported lower sales in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier. Moving forward, one-quarter of operators expect sales growth to cool over the next six months.

"Ice and snow are slowing business down, but they aren't the only challenges facing the restaurant industry," says Garth Whyte, CRFA President and CEO. "Operators are also struggling against the headwinds of an uncertain economy, rising costs, and made-in-Canada challenges such as beer and liquor monopolies and supply management in dairy and poultry."

Looking ahead, 44 per cent of operators say they will have to raise menu prices over the next six months to cope with rising costs and business challenges.

Despite a pessimistic business outlook, hiring intentions are bright as nearly two-thirds of operators plan to maintain staff levels over the next six months. In 2013, the restaurant industry added nearly 40,000 jobs to become the third-largest job creator.

About the survey
CRFA's Restaurant Outlooks Survey covers the fourth quarter of 2013 and tracks business conditions for nearly 5,400 foodservice establishments across Canada. For more information, visit www.crfa.ca/research.

CRFA is one of Canada's largest business associations, with more than 30,000 members representing restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and other foodservice providers. Canada's restaurant industry generates $68 billion annually in economic activity and employs more than 1.1 million people in communities across the country.

SOURCE Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Image with caption: "In CRFA's latest Restaurant Outlook Survey, 33 per cent of restaurateurs blamed bad weather for hurting business in the last quarter of 2013. This percentage nearly doubles for December alone. (CNW Group/Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140128_C5689_PHOTO_EN_35989.jpg

For further information:

Prasanthi Vasanthakumar, 1-800-387-5649, ext. 4254 or pvasanthakumar@crfa.ca.