Full-service restaurants in Alberta have been hit hardest by the economic downturn while fast-food joints and coffee shops have seen sales continue to grow, in spite of the recession.
Also read, Consumers Shifting Away from Fast-Food Breakfast.
Sales receipts at "limited-service" eateries in the province are up 4.7 per cent in the first eight months of 2016, totalling $2.68 billion, according to Statistics Canada.
By contrast, full-service restaurants — a category that includes everything from family diners to high-end bistros — have seen sales drop by 4.3 per cent to $2.54 billion.
"When times are tough, Canadian households typically shift their spending," said Joyce Reynolds, executive vice-president of government affairs with Restaurants Canada.
"They look for bargains. They look for less expensive dining options."
Indeed, the only times in recent history that sales at limited-service restaurants in Alberta have exceeded those at full-service restaurants have come in years during or just after an economic downturn.
Reynolds said 87 per cent of Alberta restaurant operators said the economy is having a detrimental impact on their business, in Restaurant Canada's most recently quarterly survey of members.
One notable exception, however, is among those who provide quick and inexpensive morning meals.
"A lot of growth in the quick-service sector has been driven by the breakfast category," Reynolds said.
"More and more Canadians are not choosing to have breakfast at home."
Reynolds noted, however, that the overall growth in limited-service restaurant sales doesn't necessarily mean customer counts have increased or customers are buying more food.
"This is largely because they've had to raise their prices, because their costs have gone up so much," she said.
SOURCE Robson Fletcher, CBC News
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