Study: Lockout hits Canadian merchants near arenas

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm •  Published: December 4, 2012
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TORONTO (AP) — Canadian businesses near NHL arenas are taking a hit because of the lockout.

According to a leading credit and debit card processor, spending is down more than 11 percent from a year ago on game day.

The report by Moneris found that business is off nearly 35 percent for bars near arenas in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. Moneris surveyed the game-day spending of about 750 of its customers in the hockey host cities.

Restaurants are taking a nearly 11 percent hit, with fast-food outlets down almost 7 percent compared to 2011. Edmonton is facing the largest impact, a 27 percent plunge. Spending near Montreal's Bell Centre is down more than 21 percent, with a 17 percent drop in business near Toronto's Air Canada Centre.

Merchants away from arenas, however, are getting a boost from the 11-week dispute. Moneris finds spending is up 5.4 percent.

"While overall spending at establishments near hockey arenas is down, it would appear that Canadians are simply choosing to stick closer to home," said Jim Baumgartner, the company's president and CEO.

Molson Coors Brewing Co. and owners of the La Cage aux Sports chain say the labor dispute has reduced revenues. As a league sponsor, the brewer said it will seek financial redress from the NHL once the dispute is resolved.

The Montreal Canadiens won't discuss the financial impact of the lockout, but Canadiens Vice President Donald Beauchamp noted that all 100 employees, including President Geoff Molson, have taken a 20 percent pay cut by working four days a week. Some 1,000 part-time employees who normally work during home games now work only during other events at the arena.

The Moneris report tracked only food and drink spending, but the lockout is hurting hockey merchandise vendors and parking lot owners near arenas as well.

La Capsule sportive, which sells licensed NHL clothing in Quebec, has been in creditor protection since Oct. 19 as its debts grew in part due to the lockout. The chain hopes to survive by closing 60 percent of its 13 stores.