Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

2023, a (still) difficult year for restaurateurs

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The average volume of transactions per establishment in October 2023 decreased by 10% in Quebec compared to the same period of the year last.


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The year 2023 was difficult for Canadian restaurateurs; inflation increased spending and customers became rarer.

The start of the year will be all the more crucial for restaurateurs. There are less than three weeks left to repay loans granted by the federal government during the pandemic.

To replenish her coffers, Caroline Dumas, the chef-owner of Bloomfield restaurant in Montreal increases opening days and catering services during the holidays. Despite the fact that his restaurant is full, his customers are spending less than before.

Consumption is not there. There are even people sharing dishes, she notes.

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Caroline Dumas, chef-owner of the restaurant Bloomfield in Montreal

Other restaurateurs are experiencing the same situation as Caroline Dumas. The income of Quebec restaurateurs has decreased by 5 to 10% in recent months, according to the Institute of Statistics of Quebec (ISQ).

The average transaction volume per establishment has even decreased by 10% in the province since last year. For example, it was $110,005 in October 2022, then it dropped to $99,441 in October 2023.

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In addition, restaurateurs' expenses continue to increase due to inflation.

According to Maximilien Roy, the vice-president of Restaurants Canada, the industry has not returned to the same [pace] as before the pandemic.

At this time -here, we look at the GDP [per person], if we remove inflation, we have not yet returned to the same level as before the pandemic, he specifies.

Despite the uncertainty, the holiday season helps make up for a tough 2023, especially for those hosting office parties.

This is particularly the case of Hugues Philippin, the owner of the restaurant Chic Tandi! in Quebec. It is going very well. Currently, we are very happy with this year's sales, he rejoices, but 2023 will not be a record year.

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Hugues Philippin, owner of the restaurant Chic Tandi! in Quebec

The restaurateur is aware that many challenges await him in 2024, starting with the repayment of the loan taken out from the federal government during the pandemic and whose maturity is determined on January 18.

Created during COVID-19, the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) offered loans of up to $60,000 to nearly 900,000 entrepreneurs, including Hugues Filipino.

I don't have $40,000 in cash to repay this loan, because we also have other obligations . I'll have to refinance the loan myself, so I'd definitely like to have more time to [repay] it.

A quote from Hugues Philippin, owner of the restaurant Chic Tandi !

This deadline, which is fast approaching, will also force Caroline Dumas to accumulate working hours.

It's really [gratifying] to participate in these [end of year] events and make people happy. We are happy, [but] we will see on January 18, says the owner of the Bloomfield restaurant.

As for Restaurant Canada, the organization would like governments to cap the increase in taxes on alcohol, in order to give a little of oxygen to restaurateurs in 2024.

With information from François Joly

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