Chart of the week: Restaurants bounce back

Chart of the week: Restaurants bounce back

· The Pulse

Edmonton's restaurants have consistently seen more business this month than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

This chart shows the difference in seated diners each day in 2021, starting in February, compared to the same day in 2019, before any public health restrictions related to COVID-19 were introduced in Canada, using data from OpenTable that tracks the number of seated diners based on both reservations and walk-ins.

The industry has seen an average 27.8% increase in customers so far in July, compared to 2019. On July 1, the busiest day this year, there were 59% more diners than July 1, 2019.

At the start of February, restaurants were only allowed to operate for curbside pickup, takeout, and delivery, per a set of restrictions introduced by the provincial government towards the end of 2020. On Feb. 8, the government eased these restrictions as part of Stage 1 of its reopening plan, allowing people to dine in but with limitations.

This visibly coincides with a spike in seated diners on Feb. 8, though the numbers still remained below pre-pandemic levels.

Amid rising new COVID-19 cases, the province reintroduced some restrictions at the beginning of April, including a ban on indoor dining effective April 9, though patios were allowed to stay open. On April 8, the change in seated diners over 2019 was -5%, while on April 9, it was -83%.

In May, the provincial government changed its approach by targeting municipalities with high case counts, while relaxing restrictions for those with low case counts. Since Edmonton had more than 50 cases per 100,000 people, a ban on patios was introduced for the city effective May 9, effectively prohibiting all in-person dining once again.

These restrictions were partially lifted on June 1, narrowing the gap between 2019 and 2021 to -21%.

However, it was not until the province entered Stage 2 of its reopening plan on June 10 that restaurants started to see pre-pandemic levels of customers. The change in seated diners was above zero for the first time on June 11, at 4%.

When the province entered Stage 3 on Canada Day, restaurants saw the largest number of customers so far this year, and since then, the number of seated diners has been above 2019 numbers almost every day.

For more perspective on Edmonton's experience of the pandemic, check out our COVID-19 in Edmonton timeline.