Food delivery orders in Canada increased substantially amid the pandemic

ood delivery apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and SkipTheDishes—a Winnipeg-based homegrown competitor to the US-based services—had already established a foothold before the pandemic. The greater need for delivery last year elevated their influence in food service, even though the fees they charge have raised concerns in the restaurant industry and for regulators.

Food service revenues in Canada were decimated by the pandemic, and early on: Monthly food service sales countrywide dropped to CA$2.4 billion ($1.81 billion) in April, the first full month of lockdowns, per Statistics Canada. In February, they had peaked at CA$6.3 billion ($4.75 billion).

According to Restaurants Canada’s “Foodservice Facts 2020” report, “In the span of a few months, the industry was shattered, seeing a devastating drop in sales in March and April. Food service sales won’t likely return to 2019 levels until late 2021, or possibly even 2022.”

“The carnage in the industry overall was a boon to an emerging food service channel: delivery apps, or third-party aggregators as dubbed by the industry,” said Paul Briggs, eMarketer senior analyst at Insider Intelligence and author of our new report, “Canada Digital Outlook 2021.”

“Pre-pandemic, these services had become an emerging channel for food service customers,” he said.

In April 2020, 28% of full-service restaurant (FSR) sales were via delivery, according to Ipsos tracking data. At quick-service restaurants (QSRs), a 24% share of dollars spent went to delivery. Those figures were substantially up from April 2019, when delivery accounted for 9% and 7% of sales, respectively.

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