Canadian restaurants felt the impact of COVID-19 before physical distancing restrictions and the closure of nonessential businesses. During the first two weeks of February, 24 per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Restaurants Canada said business was negatively impacted by COVID-19, with the majority reporting a decline in the number of on-site patrons.
As the pandemic evolved and consumer behaviour shifted, restaurants were forced to close their dining areas which negatively impacted 93 per cent of restaurants (Ibid). Though unable to dine-in, Canadians weren’t ready to give up the restaurant experience and quickly turned to take-out and delivery.
How Interac Debit for In-App and In-Browser Payments is helping restaurants adapt
Restrictions across Canada are lifting at different rates, though many Canadians are still unable – or unwilling – to dine-in at their favourite restaurants. Only 18 per cent of Canadians plan on visiting a restaurant as soon as possible and 52 per cent intend to avoid restaurants to protect their own health5.
Interac Debit for In-App and In-Browser Payments has experienced double digit growth since its launch in 2019 as consumers adopt digital wallets. Interac Debit for In-App and In-Browser Payments allows users to load their debit card onto their mobile wallet and pay in a few easy steps. Paying with an e-wallet means not having to enter card numbers or shipping addresses for every purchase.
Interac data indicates the shift in consumer behaviour toward digital wallets has continued since the start of COVID-19 restrictions in mid-March, as more merchants and financial institutions onboard the solution. In fact, recent Interac data shows growth in digital payment systems across the board. Interac Debit for In-App and In-Browser Payment transactions at restaurants and eating places are 2.4 times what they were before the start of the pandemic in Canada (based on Interac Debit for In-App and In-Browser Transactions between January- June 2020) and the average value of each transaction has increased more than 10 per cent (Ibid). Weekends continue to be the most popular days for ordering in for Canadians with Fridays and Saturdays making up approximately 30 per cent of the week’s total transactions (Ibid).
Eighty-three per cent of Canadians ordered from their favourite restaurant during the pandemic9. But what if your favourite spot isn’t online? Canadians continue to use Interac Debit for contactless payment when they pick up meals, order delivery, or dine outdoors. Since mid-March, Interac Debit transactions at fast food places and restaurants increased an average of 78 per cent on Fridays and Saturdays.
The restaurant experience in Canada before COVID-19
Purchases at fast food places and restaurants made up approximately 29 per cent of all Interac Debit transactions in 2019. Not surprising, as more than half of Canadians reported eating out at least once a week before the onset of the pandemic. Whether out of convenience or to socialize, celebrate a special occasion or wind down after the work week, many of these experiences took place on Fridays and Saturdays.
Restaurant payments technology evolves with consumer behaviour
When the COVID-19 restrictions were announced in Canada, restaurants began adapting to new policies and customer comfort levels. Many closed all operations except take-out and delivery. Almost a quarter of restaurants who made this shift did not have delivery and take-out infrastructure in place prior to the start of the pandemic in Canada4. This meant quickly operationalizing contactless processes for customers to order, pay and receive their food.
Some restaurants chose the security, convenience and low-cost of Interac Debit for In-App and In-Browser Payments by joining a third-party delivery service or developing their own online ordering system. Others began offering curb-side or contactless delivery with Interac Flash and Interac Debit on Mobile. Either way, restaurant owners witnessed Canadians’ shift to digital payment systems and restaurants are working hard to evolve their payment technology to adapt.2