The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association’s (CRFA’s) Restaurant Outlook Survey found 58 per cent of restaurateurs think a weak economy is affecting their business, which is an increase from 43 per cent in the third quarter. However, 62 per cent of restaurant operators plan to hold employment levels steady for the next six months, while 16 per cent expert to hire additional employees.
“Clearly, our members had cause for concern given the economic uncertainty late last year,” says Garth Whyte, CRFA president and CEO. “On the bright side, the U.S. has averted its fiscal cliff crisis, which means consumer confidence should be improving.”
The top two factors that have traditionally affected the restaurant business have been rising food and labour costs. This time, the weak economy took second place. Whyte says food costs are moderating now, but are still high on a historical basis. However, most restaurant operators are planning to hold menu prices steady.
The following are some of the survey’s other findings:
● 26 per cent reported weak customer demand;
● 23 per cent were affected by bad weather, an increase from 12 per cent in the third quarter;
● 27 per cent were impacted by rising gas prices, a decrease from 35 per cent in the third quarter; and
● 17 per cent were hurt by the National Hockey League (NHL) lockout.