Otago hospitality big winners from Lions tour

Spending benefits from the Lions rugby tour spread to Otago this week with bars, clubs and cafes reporting a big boost in sales.

The Highlanders Super Rugby team played the touring British & Irish Lions in Dunedin on Tuesday evening, with the hosts winning 23-22.

Hospitality merchants in the Otago region were also big winners with electronic payments jumping $860,000 higher than normal between midday Monday and noon Wednesday to $2.5m, according to Paymark.

“The percentage increase was 53% for these Otago non-accommodation hospitality merchants, noting that Otago includes both Dunedin and Queenstown,” said the electronic payments firm.

“Given that most of the increase occurred immediately before and after the Lions game, it is reasonable to infer that this extra spending can be attributed to the event and was most likely in Dunedin.”

The largest increase occurred between 5pm and 7pm on Tuesday, just before the game, and at 10pm to midnight, when spending amongst hospitality merchants was 2-6 times their May average for each hour.

Payments between 3am and 4am on Wednesday were similar to that normally experienced between 11pm to midnight on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, there was a mixed pattern of spending across Otago on Tuesday, with not all changes necessarily due to the rugby event, said Paymark.

Taxis saw over twice the normal business and clothing and footwear merchants experienced a third higher sales. Spending was also up at auto repairs shops, rural supply companies, liquor stores and specialist food retailers.

However, spending was down at gyms, government bodies, banks, accountants and lawyers, supermarkets and hardware and appliance stores.

In total, spending through Paymark in Otago was $8.6m on Tuesday, up $700,000 or 8.8% on an average Tuesday in May.

“These figures do not reveal exactly what happened on the day,” said Paymark. “But they do imply that there were a lot of extra people in town on Tuesday and that they did not come to go to the gym, pay their rates, or see the lawyer – at least not at the office.”

Paymark processes 75% of all electronic card transactions in New Zealand.

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