Statistics show P.E.I. takeout restaurant business is growing
Island restaurants doing better than most in the country
Despite the pandemic, P.E.I. restaurants offering takeout and delivery registered some growth in September, according to Statistics Canada restaurant sales data.
While there is some recovery from the worst months of the pandemic, the report showed overall restaurant business on the Island is still down significantly — 16 per cent for the month and 23 per cent for the year.
That is still, however, better than the national numbers, which were down more than a quarter for both the month and the year-to-date.
"Operators are happy to be open and not under a lockdown scenario such as we're seeing in other parts of the country," said Carl Nicholson, president of the P.E.I. Restaurant Association.
The Statistics Canada report also showed a stark difference in how the pandemic is affecting limited-service restaurants, which are focused more on takeout and delivery, and full-service restaurants.
Compared to the same month in 2019, limited-service restaurants showed an actual increase in September, though not as strong as the trends were showing in January and February.
Full-service restaurants were still off by 13.7 per cent in September compared to a year earlier, and that was following a summer where sales were cut almost in half.
Nicholson said as the tourism season winds down, dining rooms are still feeling the impact — not just of reduced capacity, but also of far less lunch traffic, with so many working from home. It is too early to know if this is a trend that could linger past the pandemic, he added.
"It's a matter of whether people have gotten into another habit," said Nicholson.
"Whether they say, you know, I'm tired of packing my lunch and I want to get out and have lunch with someone."
Many restaurants chose not to open this season or closed for the season early, and that has helped the restaurants that have stayed open, he said, because they are getting a larger piece of the smaller pie.