On a month-over-month basis, seasonally-adjusted restaurant and bar sales in Alberta edged down slightly, falling by 0.1 per cent in August to $803.8 million, according to ATB Financial’s Economics & Research Team.
Sourcing Statistics Canada data, ATB said in its daily economic update The Owl that the situation is better on a year-over-year basis with sales in the province up by 2.1 per cent compared to the previous August.
“The improvement since August 2018 is positive, but it does not necessarily mean restaurant and bar owners are doing better than they were as operating costs may also be up and the spending may be spread over a larger number of establishments. Unfortunately, statistics on changes to operating costs and the number of restaurants and bars are not readily available,” said ATB.
“Breaking the numbers down, bars saw their sales decrease by 7.7 per cent in August compared to a year earlier while spending at full-service restaurants went up by 4.4 per cent. Spending at fast food restaurants and coffee shops (a.k.a. ‘limited-service eating places’) increased by 1.3 per cent while caterers, food trucks and other ‘special food services’ saw sales rise by 13.4 per cent.
“Over 90 per cent of restaurant and bar sales take place at limited-service eating places (46.8 per cent) and full-service restaurants (44.8 per cent). Nationally, restaurant and bar sales were up by 0.3 per cent on a monthly basis in August and by 2.6 per cent compared to a year earlier.”
Meanwhile, seasonally-adjusted retail sales in Alberta managed to creep up by 0.1 per cent in August compared to July. Spending was down by 0.6 per cent compared to the previous August. This was the fourth contraction in a row with year-over-year sales down by $41 million.
“High unemployment and consumer caution in the face of a weak economy are contributing factors to the weak sales this year, but lower prices at the pumps account for the overall reduction in sales. Spending at gasoline stations was off by 14.6 per cent ($149 million) compared to August 2018. If gasoline stations are removed from the equation, retail spending (on an unadjusted basis) was up by 2.4 per cent compared to the previous August.
“Sales were also down for electronics and appliance stores (-6.1 per cent), and for building material and garden stores (-0.7 per cent),” said ATB.
“Sales went up in the other major sub-sectors, including motor vehicle and parts dealers (+4.0 per cent), food and beverage stores (+2.5 per cent), and clothing stores (+2.3 per cent). Nationally, retail sales slipped by 0.1 per cent in August compared to July, but were up by 1.1 per cent ($582 million) compared to last year.”