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Digital foodservice ordering accelerates in Canada

Carry-out is the most popular off-premises visit.
Food delivery app on a smartphone tracking a delivery man on a moped with a ready meal, technology and logistics concept, city skyline in the background

Digital foodservice ordering is on the rise, with digital orders for carry-out and delivery from restaurants and other foodservice outlets, including convenience stores, increasing by 155% over the last two years, according to NPD’s continual tracking of the Canadian foodservice industry.   

Although digital foodservice ordering was growing before the pandemic, the pandemic accelerated its growth, as digital order became a lifeline for Canadians, reports The NPD Group.

READ: Norm However of 7-Eleven Canada and Gerry Bes of Little Short Stop Stores share practical tips for getting in the delivery zone

Ordering through mobile apps represents the bulk of digital orders. In January 2022, mobile app orders represented 75% of all digital foodservice orders. 20% were internet orders, and 5% were orders sent by text.

In the early stages of the pandemic, mobile orders for delivery were more popular than carry-out. Still, as vaccination rates increased and foodservice customers became more comfortable going into restaurants, mobile orders for carry-out increased, and delivery digital orders softened, reports NPD.     

In January 2022, mobile app orders for carry-out were up 11% on top of a 151% jump in the same month last year, and delivery mobile app orders were up 1% compared to a 150% increase in January 2021.  

Whether ordered, digitally or non-digitally, carry-out is the most popular off-premises visit. Carry-out orders increased by 11% in January compared to last January.

In comparison, delivery and drive-thru visits declined by 7% and 2%, respectively, compared to a year ago.

Dining at a restaurant or foodservice outlet continued to be challenged by pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. On-premises visits in January were down -73% from January 2020 before the pandemic. 

This makes sense, due to various lockdowns imposed during the early part of 2022.

“Digital foodservice ordering platforms continue to evolve, providing Canadians with many ways to interact with their favourite restaurants,” says Vince Sgabellone, NPD foodservice industry analyst. “While we can expect that digital ordering will soften as soon as on-premises restaurant visits return, it likely won’t be long before the digital providers make headway into this space.”

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