Statistics Canada says sales in the food service and drinking places subsector increased three per cent to $7.4 billion in May, the highest value since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and of the series. 

The agency said Tuesday sales at drinking places rose 6.1 per cent in May while full-service restaurants recorded a 3.1 per cent increase and limited-service restaurants nudged up 1.9 per cent.

The category of special food services, which includes food caterers, food trucks and companies that supply food under contract such as through concessions, cafeterias or airlines, soared 8.1 per cent. 

Statistics Canada said each province reported higher sales as most had lifted restrictions by May. 

Ontario reported the biggest increase in food service and drinking places sales at 3.8 per cent. 

Although Quebec only removed its mask mandate in mid-May, it had the second highest increase in sales at 3.5 per cent. 

Unadjusted sales in May were up 62.2 per cent compared with May 2021 and 12.7 per cent compared with May 2019, the agency said. 

Prices for food purchased from restaurants were up 6.8 per cent in May, compared with the same month a year ago, while prices for alcoholic beverages served in licensed establishments increased 5.5 per cent.