VANCOUVER British Columbia Just as countries around the world racked up medals, Vancouver-area restaurants tallied huge sales gains during the two weeks of the Winter Olympics.
Ian Tostenson, president of the British Columbia Restaurant & Foodservices Association, said the Olympics were a huge boost to downtown restaurants.
“Restaurants in the downtown area, in what we call the Olympic Zone, did extraordinarily well,” Tostenson said. "We saw increases ranging from 100 to 300 percent, throughout the duration of the games.”
Eateries outside of that hot zone were less impacted, but still benefited from the Olympics.
“The restaurants in the outer edges, I would say sales there were flat, which in the recession that we all have experience, is pretty good," Tostenson said. “Sales had been trending negative.
Restaurants away from the Yaletown epicenter that did promotions related to events, such as setting up big screens, also did well, Tostenson said.
Expectations were high going into the Olympics, with visitors converging on Vancouver from all over the globe. Tostenson said 200,000 to 300,000 people were expected to be in the downtown corrider daily.
“The word up here was it was going to be ‘business as unusual,’” he said.
According to data from restaurant point-of-sale provider Vivonet:
- Sales at restaurants in the Yaletown area that had multiple venues for events like hockey, figure skating and the opening and closing ceremonies were up 124 percent for the first week of the Olympics over the same week last year and 146 percent for the second week over last year.
- Sales in the larger downtown area that includes Yaletown and surrounding neighborhoods were up 88 percent in the first week and 112 percent in the second week.
- Sales in the overall Vancouver area were up 8.5 percent in the first week and 5.4 percent in the second week.
- From Feb. 17-19, the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday leading into the middle weekend of the Olympics, beer sales in Vancouver spiked nearly 400 percent and liquor sales went up nearly 350 percent, both compared to the same period last year.
Vancouver is located in British Columbia, a province in western Canada. Restaurants saw gains in other parts of Canada as well, with eateries in the Prairies seeing 4 and 5 percent gains during the first and second weeks of the Olympics, respectively, and restaurants in Eastern Canada getting 1 and 2 percent bumps during those same periods.