Published April 9, 2024

Restaurants along eclipse's path of totality saw sales boom: Square

By  Rosa Saba

Restaurants on the eclipse's path of totality saw a jump in sales on Monday as people flocked to find the best spots to see the celestial event, according to sales data from payments technology company Square.

"The eclipse was genuinely a unique cosmic event, but also a unique event for commerce," said Ara Kharazian, research and data lead at Square.

Square said Tuesday restaurants that use its technology in Niagara Falls, Ont., which saw a huge influx of visitors for the eclipse, saw 404 per cent higher sales than the average Monday in 2024.

Hamilton, Ont., saw a 67 per cent jump, while Montreal restaurants saw sales rise 55 per cent. 

The increases mirrored a similar pattern in the U.S., where some counties saw restaurant sales rise by more than 500 per cent. 

This kind of spike in spending is almost as rare as an eclipse, Kharazian said, as multiple places across North America saw sales skyrocket.

"It’s simultaneously expected and also pretty stunning," he said.

"It is genuinely rare to see this level of highly localized and also supercharged level of spending." 

The spike gave a welcome boost to restaurants, which are highly seasonal, he said. 

"It wasn't a one-day event, we know that we saw some spending leading up to the weekend as well," he added. 

"That excess sales revenue is going to be very helpful to a business . We hear often from restaurants who report that some of their biggest challenges have to do with access to cash and liquidity."

Municipalities across Central and Eastern Canada spent months preparing for the brief window of time in which the sun, Earth and moon aligned on Monday afternoon. 

Demand for hotels and short-term rentals surged for the weekend ahead of the eclipse, while municipalities planned events centred around the phenomenon. 

A February report from Airbnb said Montreal and the Niagara Region were among the most popular cities on its platform along the path of totality. 

Municipalities like Hamilton and Niagara Falls urged visitors to plan ahead, anticipating heavy traffic and high demand. The mayor of Niagara Falls said about a million people were expected to fill the city, the largest crowd in its history. 

"It was not a typical Monday in April, that’s for sure," said Janice Thomson, president and CEO of Niagara Falls Tourism. 

Though Niagara Falls is a yearlong tourist destination, Thomson said she'd never experienced anything like what happened on Monday, with a huge crowd of people cheering every time the clouds parted. 

Canada's telecom companies deployed additional infrastructure in preparation for large crowds of people. In a statement, Rogers said its network handled more than six times the amount of traffic it normally does in Niagara Falls, thanks in part to portable mobile towers. 

Banner image: People watch the total solar eclipse at Parc Jean Drapeau, in Montreal, Monday, April 8, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2024.

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