Albertans spent less money eating out last October and November than they did in previous months.
The data from Statistics Canada shows Albertans collectively spent $759 million dollars at bars and restaurants in November. That’s $10 million dollars less than was spent in October.
ATB Chief Economist Todd Hirsch said there’s no clear reason for the decline but adds, “We do know that restaurants have been seeing higher costs and they’re pushing those up in their menu items.”
Higher priced food could mean less demand.
“That might be dissuading some Albertans from eating out. They might decide just to stay home and eat instead.”
Restaurant owners have complained about these increases, saying it will cost them money and they may have to lay off staff or close.
Hirsch also pointed out that these declines followed several months of increases.
“Two months certainly doesn’t make a trend so we’ll have to see where restaurant receipts go in the coming months,” he said.
Watch below: Mark von Schellwitz with Restaurants Canada says the minimum wage increase was “too much too fast” for restaurants
Edo Japan is modernizing its stores and expanding. At a party to celebrate Wednesday, franchisee Nelson Rodriguez spoke about the minimum wage increases.
“It’s a very big concern,” he said. “Look what’s happening in Ontario. I believe it will unfortunately be happening here. Employers will rethink what they’re doing, what they’re giving right now.”
Rodriguez is referring to some Ontario Tim Hortons franchises that have clawed back employee benefits after the Ontario government increased the minimum wage to $14/hr on Jan. 1.
On Tuesday, Labour Minister Christina Gray defended the Alberta government’s plans. She said employees need better wages.
“Making sure that they’re able to put food on the table is important as we continue to support business,” Gray said.
“The increase in the minimum wage is directly impacting families, putting more money in their pockets and allowing them to spend more money in the local economy.”
Standing next to her, restaurant owner Adil Asim said he’s not extraordinarily worried about wage hikes.
“Lettuce prices triple in price three times a year. I could go on and on. This industry is built on challenges. So for them to say this is an insurmountable challenge; bogus,” Asim said.
Edo Japan’s CEO also spoke at the new store launch. He said minimum wage hikes shouldn’t slow his company’s growth, adding Edo has seen higher sales numbers during the same months that Statistics Canada reported overall declines.
Dave Minnett adds higher labour costs force companies like his to adapt and Edo’s new look and new menu does that.
Industry wide, he said, “I think the future is bright. I think the future is positive but I think the future requires brands of yesteryear and yesterday to continue to evolve.”