Some of the most recent economic indicators are suggesting that Alberta’s economy is moderating a bit. But if that slower pace of growth is real, someone forgot to inform restaurant and bar-goers in the
province. At the end of the year, total spending hit a record high.
In December, the value of all receipts at restaurants, bars and other eating establishments hit $667 million—an increase of 1.2 per cent over the previous month and a new record high for the province. This figure is adjusted for seasonality, so the predictable increase in eating and entertaining in restaurants and bars over the Christmas holiday is not a factor.
For the year as a whole, total receipts at eating and drinking establishments were up 8.9 per cent over 2011. This far outpaces total population growth in the province of about 2 per cent last year, plus the annual rate of inflation of food purchased in restaurants of 3.1 per cent.
And while it is difficult to quantify it as a factor, the return of NHL hockey in 2013 must have brought
some smiles to the faces of bar and pub owners across the province. That could help boost sales
even more, at least in the sports bars. The return of hockey aside, there is likely to be some levelling off or small pull-back of restaurant and bar receipts in the coming months. With employment gains moderating and a softer outlook for the energy sector, spending on discretionary activities like eating out could very well slow down a bit in 2013.*
*Courtesy of Todd Hirsch, Senior Economist, ATB Financial