Tim Hortons in Canada
Sales at its locations in Canada are proving to be a drag on Tim Hortons' numbers. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Toronto: Canadian coffee staple Tim Hortons is grappling with a sluggish recovery in its home market as the country reopens its economy more slowly than the US.

The Restaurant Brands International Inc.-owned chain is peppered across malls and office food courts in Canada, which have seen steep declines in customer traffic as the pandemic roils daily routines. That's hurting Tim Hortons locations in a country where two-thirds of stores have drive-thrus, compared to about 90 per cent of those in the US.

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Drive-thrus are proving a key factor in restaurants' ability to weather the pandemic. Many are expediting a pivot to give more physical space to pick-up operations as they try to perfect the right mix with expensive dining room real estate.

Restaurant Brands didn't give specific regional figures, but said US comparable sales were down low single digits at the end of July, about 10 points better than Canadian locations.

"High frequency, coffee-led tickets are an even greater percentage of our sales in Canada than they are in the US," CEO Jose Cil said on the company's second-quarter earnings call.