Lightspeed Commerce Survey Reveals Canadian Dining Trends

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MONTREAL — Lightspeed Commerce has conducted a survey of more than 7,500 dining consumers globally, with 1,500 respondents in Canada, to better understand how dining trends have evolved in the past year.

Dining Out on a Budget

With 74 per cent of respondents dining out at least once a month, and 31 per cent dining out once a week or more, Canadians are looking for ways to continue to keep dining fun and affordable. Thirty-nine per cent are hunting for deals; 33 per cent are choosing value meals; and 26 per cent are making the most of happy-hour specials.

Nearly half (36 per cent) of respondents aren’t shy about asking to box up their food to stretch their dining dollars. Forty-three per cent of women compared to 28 per cent of men are more likely to enjoy a second meal with the leftovers. Older Canadians, particularly those aged 55 or older are similarly inclined, with 41 per cent taking doggy bags home.

“Value is certainly top of mind for restaurant diners at the moment,” says Dax Dasilva, CEO and founder of Lightspeed. “Restaurateurs need to adapt to an environment of cost savings, but also perceived value. Customers don’t want to sacrifice the experience of dining out, they still want to feel like they’re treating themselves. Keeping this in mind encourages repeat visits and a better overall customer experience.”

The Tipping Point

Sixty-seven per cent of Canadian consumers feel more pressure to tip and 53 per cent say inflation has affected their ability to do so. Notably, across all global regions surveyed, Canadians are cutting back on tipping the most (25 per cent are tipping less) while 19 per cent of locals in other regions such as the U.S., U.K. and France are tipping less.

Additionally, 77 per cent of Canadian diners aren’t fans of auto-tipping prompts on digital screens. Canadians also feel the most strongly about eliminating the need for tipping altogether (34 per cent, tied with Belgium) when compared to consumers in other global regions.

The most common reason Canadians feel the pressure to tip is because they want to avoid appearing cheap (36 per cent). Meanwhile, compared to their U.S. counterparts, the majority of Canadians are less likely to tip higher percentages. Forty-seven per cent of Canadians said they prefer to tip between 10 and 15 per cent, with 15 per cent tipping less than 10 per cent overall. On the other end, 27 per cent of Canadians are willing to tip 16 to 20 per cent, but this falls flat when 38 per cent of Americans are willing to tip the same amount.

QR Codes and Menus

The backlash against QR-code menus is palpable. While 20 per cent of respondents appreciate their hygiene benefits, 90 per cent of Canadians would rather flip through a physical menu, especially at fine-dining spots where this jumps to 93 per cent. Some 36 per cent say they downright “hate” QR-code menus, and nearly a quarter (25 per cent) grumble that the text on digital menus is too small to read.

The disdain for QR codes is more pronounced among the older generation, with 54 per cent of those aged 65 and above requesting a paper or printed menu when presented with a QR code by a server. Additionally, 35 per cent admit to not being tech-savvy enough to navigate QR-code menus.

“Technology on its own doesn’t necessarily provide a better customer experience,” says Dasilva. “Restaurants should think holistically about how best to integrate customer preference and technological innovation to create a unique dining experience. The use of QR codes is not inherently negative. They can be extremely useful in the case of at-table payments or quick ordering; it’s more about understanding the use cases that work than applying a catch-all solution. By staying adaptable and responsive to changing consumer preferences, restaurants can not only survive but also thrive in the current landscape.

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