‘COVID-19 public health measures and social distancing significantly affected food service sector sales in 2020,’ explains Jeewani Fernando, provincial consumer market analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

Food and beverage stores, essential services that were allowed to remain open, reported a record level of sales during the first wave of COVID-19 due to panic buying, consumer stockpiling and many full service restaurants being closed for indoor dining.

‘Similar record level of sales were reported in the fourth quarter of 2020 probably due to seasonal buying and uncertainties around the second wave of COVID-19 public health measures.’

Overall, retail food and beverage quarterly sales in Alberta showed an increase of 5% from the third to the fourth quarters of 2020. Despite the lower total sales value, specialty stores recorded a significant 23% increase while convenience stores recorded a 10% sales decrease in sales during the same period.

The annual quarterly sales from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2020 also recorded a noteworthy increase of 8%.

‘The situation was different in food service sales,’ Fernando points out. ‘Not surprisingly, public health measures and social distancing during the first and second waves of COVID-19 significantly affected food service sector sales.’

The easing of those measures after the first wave helped to improve sales of all sub-sectors in the third quarter of 2020.

‘However, with second wave public health measures, sales from the third to fourth quarters of 2020 and annual fourth quarter sales in Alberta declined significantly by 13% and 27% respectively.’

In terms of total value, drinking places (alcoholic beverages), full service restaurants and limited-service restaurants recorded significantly lower sales with 22%, 19% and 9% respectively.

The Data Highlight section of Trends in Retail provides quarterly updates of retail and food service sales in Alberta.

Read the latest Trends in Retail-Issue 21.


Connect with Jeewani Fernando for more information:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)

Phone: 780-415-9773
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]

For media inquiries about this article, call Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s media line:

Phone: 780-422-1005

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