‘COVID-19 public health measures and social distancing during the first and second waves of the pandemic significantly affected food service sector sales,’ explains Jeewani Fernando, provincial consumer market analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. ‘The easing of measures after the first wave helped to improve sales of all sub-sectors in the third quarter of 2020. However, with second wave measures, sales of first quarter 2021 declined by 8% compared to sales of fourth quarter 2020. Compared to first quarter sales of 2020, the same quarter sales in 2021 declined by 15%.'

In terms of total value, annual quarterly sales for the first quarter of 2021 for drinking places (alcoholic beverages), full service restaurants and special food services restaurants recorded significantly lower sales with 45%, 27% and 39% respectively. Limited-service eating places is the only category that recorded a 1% sales increase.

Retail food and beverage stores sales were down in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the fourth quarter of 2020. While grocery stores recorded a 6% sales reduction, specialty food stores and beer, wine and liquor store sales recorded a 32% and 20% reduction respectively.

‘Record sales reported in the fourth quarter of 2020, probably because of seasonal buying and uncertainties around the second wave of COVID-19 public health measures, may be the reason for the decreasing sales in the first quarter of 2021,’ explains Fernando. ‘Consumers were stocked up.’

However, annual quarterly sales were down by only 1% for grocery stores and 3% for specialty stores. Annual quarterly sales for beer, wine and liquor stores recorded a 17% increase.

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 22.


For more information, contact Jeewani Fernando:

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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