Atlantic Canada’s independent voice on economic issues

Restaurants & Bars

Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Atlantic Restaurants & Bars

  • All Atlantic provinces closed in-room dining and bars by the third week of March 2020, restricting sales to take-out.
  • Some Atlantic full-service restaurants have opted to shut-down completely, rather than offer take-out. Some popular drive-thrus (e.g., Tim Hortons) are reporting difficulty finding staff, while some limited-service restaurants (e.g., McDonalds) have closed take-out and are only offering drive-thru services.
  • Atlantic sales in March fell 33% from February in seasonally adjusted terms, a loss of $114 million in revenues.
  • APEC estimates this industry will see upwards of $0.8 billion in lost sales during the second quarter of 2020 (April to June). Approximately $0.25 billion in regional sales should be maintained over this period via sales at take-outs and drive-thrus.
  • Employment has been reduced substantially, with Atlantic employment in accommodation and food services down 44% between February and April, and hours worked down 67%.

Quick Facts

  • There are over 5,300 business locations across the region in the Atlantic food services and drinking places industry, including restaurants and bars, take-outs, drive-thrus and caterers.
  • The Atlantic food services and drinking places industry employed almost 66,000 in 2018. 
  • Average weekly earnings in the industry were over $370 in 2019, 61% below the all-industry average.
  • About 36% of locations employ less than 5 employees (including self-employed); About 94% of locations employ less than 50 people. 
  • Total Atlantic food services and drinking places industry sales were $4.2 billion in 2019.


Updated March 25, 2020


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