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The return of rugby on the night of Saturday, June 13 led to a 292% increase in transactions at bars and clubs in the city from the Saturday a week before, according to Westpac Bank figures.
That Saturday also had 160% more transactions than the night Six60 played a gig in the city in March.
“This analysis illustrates just how commercially significant it can be for businesses when a big event comes to town, especially at the moment, given the effect of the lockdown on trading," Westpac Customer Experience Hub general manager Karen Silk said.
“Across the season these games will be pumping millions into local economies.”
Speight’s Ale House operator Mark Scully said June 13 was a big day for his venue.
"We certainly experienced it," Mr Scully said.
"People are just looking forward to an event. We’ve had so few events."
He said it was likely many people going to the rugby were not usually regulars, but keen to be part of the occasion.
About 16,000 tickets for this Saturday’s game between the Highlanders and the Crusaders had been sold, Mr Scully said.
He agreed with Ms Silk about the importance of big events for bars and clubs in the city.
"One, it gets local people out.
"Two, it gets visitors to the city. What that can do is ... if you’ve got someone coming to watch the game ... you tend to go out with them.
"Visitors tend to get the locals out and about."
This weekend’s game comes during the university holidays and Mr Scully hoped that would bolster attendance even more.
"Hopefully, they get a good turnout, because the last game was actually in the middle of exams and they still got a good turnout."
Craft Bar & Kitchen owner John Macdonald said June 13 was not better than New Year’s Eve for his establishment.
"We had a good day, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t better than New Year’s Eve."
He said there was no doubt big events were key for businesses like his.
"There’s no doubt that major events in the city have a huge impact ... it brings visitors and people to town and it encourages locals to go out."
Rugby was the only major event bringing crowds out, he said.
"Hopefully, there’ll be a few Canterbury people that come down. That should make a bit of a difference ... we’re looking forward to another solid weekend."