The economic downturn has more Albertans opting to eat meals at home rather than at restaurants and pubs. Yet even with the recent pull-back, diners in this province are still spending more than most other Canadians.
Over most of the last five years, per capita spending at restaurants and bars in Alberta was by far the highest in the country. It peaked at just under $180 per person, per month, right around the middle of 2014. Not coincidently, that was when oil prices reached a peak of $US 107 per barrel. After that, the economy became more challenging and per capita spending started to slide (see graph).
Restaurant and bar receipts are a useful barometer of consumer confidence since most of the money spent eating out is discretionary—that is, it’s optional rather than necessary.
In October of last year, Alberta was bumped out of its top spot by British Columbia, where monthly per capita spending is now $177. That’s not a great shock since BC’s economy is currently the fastest growing in the country and the job market is doing well.
Compared to the rest of Canada, Albertans are still spending a lot on meals and drinks in restaurants. The national average in February was $142. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, given its culture of eating and dining, Quebec had the lowest average per capita spending at only $111 per person.*
*Courtesy of Todd Hirsch • ATB Financial, Chief Economist