This year’s July 1 weekend, which officially marked 150 years since Confederation, was a very profitable one for Canadian merchants – and Moneris Solutions has the numbers to prove it.

According to data released by the Toronto-based debit and credit card payment firm, which processes more than 3 billion transactions a year at over 350,000 businesses, Canadians coast to coast spent a minimum of eight per cent – and in the case of Canada’s capital and three largest cities, at least per cent – more on Canada Day this year than last.

“We believe these increases are directly attributed to the fact that it was Canada’s 150th, and that celebrations were planned in a bigger-than-normal way in all of the downtown centres across the country,” Moneris vice president of financial institutions and partner management Malcolm Fowler told ITBusiness.ca. “Not one of them saw declines. And if you dig a bit deeper inside the largest areas of growth, it was typically driven by restaurants and hotels.”

The year-over-year growth in spending over the five-day Canada Day long weekend – between June 29 and July 3 (versus June 30 – July 4, 2016) – in seven of Canada’s largest cities can be seen in the map below:

Courtesy Moneris

A Moneris representative told ITBusiness.ca the company cannot share specific dollar amounts and is unable to provide specific numbers.

However, Fowler said that he and Moneris have several theories that could explain the percentages, noting that it’s hardly a surprise that spending in Ottawa, which hosted a high-security celebration marred by long lines and poor weather that nevertheless attracted record crowds, grew by 30 per cent.

In Toronto, which infamously paid $120,000 to rent a six-storey, 13-tonne rubber duck, spending in the city’s Harbourfront area, where the duck was located, grew by 17 per cent, indicating that the giant toy was a better investment than detractors gave it credit for, Fowler said.

“The duck zone’s growth over the whole weekend, not just Canada Day itself, was bigger than Toronto’s downtown core, so clearly people were attracted to all of the excitement it generated,” he said.

Toronto and Ottawa were hardly alone in planning special celebrations for Canada’s 150th birthday, of course – Vancouver’s Canada Place and Montreal’s Old Port district hosted a series of concerts, for instance.

When divided by industry, restaurants and hotels saw the highest gains year over year – 25 and 44 per cent, respectively – indicating that many travellers, both from within and outside the country, chose to join the celebrations, Fowler said.

Also bolstering the traveller hypothesis: Foreign card spending growth in certain markets grew at a higher rate than spending by Canadian citizens, he noted, with the highest number of visitors hailing from the U.S., U.K., and China.

In Ottawa, for example, foreign spending on Canada Day itself grew by 38.99 per cent year-over-year, and by 32.39 per cent over the weekend.

“So not only were Canadians out celebrating, but clearly we had visitors from other parts of the world joining us too,” Fowler said.

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