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Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan described it as a "lumpy weekend" where it was busy at some moments and then suddenly very quiet.
He said it was a particularly good weekend for big retailers.
"It’s traditionally a really strong weekend for retail where you have your Labour Day sales.
"Some people are obviously shopping a little bit earlier too. Some people are now starting to worry about that supply chain issue we knew was coming and we can see that some stock in some shops is out."
Larnach Castle director Norcombe Barker was delighted to see numbers pick up to a level above what they were last year.
"It was good ... we were thrilled with it. It’s good to see people out and about."
Mr Barker said he suspected a lot of visitors were actively trying to support local businesses after a disruptive year due to Covid-19.
International visitors made up 65% of their customers usually, so it was almost certain their bookings would be down this summer, Mr Barker said.
The Bella Vista Motel said a no-show from a major booking put a dampener on what would have been a strong weekend for them.
On George St, Alcala Motel owner Gary Perreau said it was "busy but not flat out".
It was reasonably steady for the past few months, he said.
"I know we have some good weekends to come so that’s not so bad, it makes it comparatively stress-free.
"Having said that, we are missing overseas tourists and it’s quite noticeable that’s making things just a little bit quieter."
Mr Perreau said he was looking forward to big events such as graduation ceremonies in December.
Mark Fraser is one of the owners of Mac’s Brew Bar in Stuart St, Nova Cafe in the upper Octagon and Jizo Japanese Cafe & Bar in Princes St.
He said Sunday was particularly good and they closed on Monday, when heavy rain hit the city.
His venues are usually not open on Monday and Tuesday because of the lack of people out on those days but they were reassessing whether to extend hours on a weekly basis now.
Mr Fraser said he had hopes good weather and big events would make the central city busier.
"I would love that to be the case.
"Events are one of those big things that’s going to drive those big days. I’m really hoping we can get a few more events in the city, which really does help drive business in the door."
Caltex Te Anau owner Stephen Stock said it had been a good Labour weekend for business, partly because of the three-day Te Anau Manapouri Fishing Classic, which had brought visitors from throughout the region into town.
"It’s been pretty good, and certainly a lot better than nothing at all."
Business at Queenstown’s Yonder eatery and bar over the long weekend exceeded expectations, marketing manager Chris Barnhart said.
"We don’t have huge expectations given the whole situation we’re all in, but we were pretty happy."