Terri Stephens | 403-827-4663

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When Albertans aren’t working or playing, we have a record-breaking appetite for dining out.

In August, spending at restaurants and bars in Alberta reached a new record high of $685-million (adjusted for seasonality), according to Statistics Canada. That builds on the previous high of $678-million set in July. And, the trend is ongoing. Over the last 12 months, spending is 6.3 per cent higher than the previous 12-month period.

On a per person basis, diners in Wild Rose Country spent around $170 per person in August on food and drinks outside the home, which is about $37 more than the average Canadian (see chart).

What explains this dramatic difference? The most significant factor is income. Albertans earn, on average, $1,117 dollars per week—about 20 per cent more than the average $918 earned across the country. Higher income means more dollars available for discretionary purchases.

But there are also less positive factors behind the flurry of spending. Albertans may be facing higher menu prices. It’s rare not to hear someone gripe about the cost of a standard burger and pint of beer. Albertans also work more hours each week than other Canadians, which may leave us strapped for time. Grabbing take-out food on the way home or a sandwich in the food court may be less about choice, and more about having little available time to cook or pack lunches. 


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