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Food and drinking places sales decline in August in the wake of wildfires

October 25, 2023, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

Sales at food and drinking places fell 1.0% to $7.7 billion in August, with most of the decline attributable to lower sales at full-service (-1.2% to $3.4 billion) and limited-service (-0.7% to $3.5 billion) restaurants.

Evacuation orders and travel advisories remained in place for much of the North and parts of British Columbia in August in the wake of wildfires. In particular, food and drink sales in the Northwest Territories fell 15.5%, as residents fled their communities.

Food and drink sales were down in nine provinces, with the largest drops in dollar terms being in Ontario (-1.5%) and British Columbia (-1.1%). The lone increase was in Quebec (+0.4%).

Sales at special food services, such as caterers to weddings, airlines or remote work camps, were down for the fourth consecutive month, falling 1.4% to $572 million in August.

Drinking places sales (-0.1%) edged down from one month earlier to $210.6 million, the first decline in four months.

Food services and drinking places, August 2023
Description - Food services and drinking places, August 2023

Seasonally adjusted sales in August were down in all four industry groups from July. Full-service restaurants and limited-service restaurants saw the largest declines.

In August, evacuation orders and travel advisories were in effect for much of the North and parts of British Columbia, which affected industry sales. For example, sales dropped 15.5% in the Northwest Territories, where some communities had to be evacuated.

August 2023 sales (seasonally adjusted)


to $7.7 billion


Monthly sales, by industry

Limited-service restaurants




Full-service restaurants




Special food services




Drinking places (alcoholic beverages)




Sales in food services and drinking places

Largest monthly variations in dollars (seasonally adjusted), provinces and territories

Northwest Territories












British Columbia




Year-over-year sales, August 2023 (not seasonally adjusted)


+9.0% from August 2022

+18.5% from August 2019 (pre-pandemic)


Price variations, August 2023 versus August 2022

Food purchased from restaurants



Alcoholic beverages served in licensed establishments



Note: For complete data, please see table 21-10-0019-01 – Monthly survey of food services and drinking places and table 18-10-0004-13 – Consumer Price Index by product group, monthly, percentage change, not seasonally adjusted, Canada, provinces, Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Iqaluit.


Sources: Statistics Canada, Monthly Survey of Food Services and Drinking Places, Consumer Price Index, August 2023.

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