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Fans and Small Businesses Rejoice – the NHL Lockout is Over!!

Just after it began, all those long months ago, we looked at what effect the NHL lockout would have on the Canadian economy. Thanks to Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO, we found that it really wouldn’t have that great an impact.

Mr. Porter found that the NHL lockout would only bring our GDP down by about 0.1 per cent. And the cities that would feel it the most are those close to big NHL events, such as Windsor, Ontario, which is located just 45 minutes away from the location where the Winter Classic was scheduled to be held (that event was cancelled some time ago.) In addition to that, small business owners, especially those located in hockey cities and close to arenas, would be the ones hardest hit. Now though, it’s time for those business owners to rejoice. While we don’t have an official date just yet, the NHL lockout is over! And that means those lost profits will soon start pouring in!

It was on Sunday that Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr jointly announced that they had come to an agreement on the framework of a deal. While it still needs to be ratified by both the owners and the players, this deal looks like it’s going to go through, meaning that hockey could be back as early as January 15, but probably no later than January 19th. It will mean a shortened season, but business owners will take fewer profits over no profits at all. And that’s just what they can expect now. It has business owners such as Jonathan Whitley of Wheat Sheaf Tavern in Toronto, very excited.

“We know with absolute certainty it will [pick up,]” he said. “We haven’t had a contender for a very long time. We kind of joke we haven’t had hockey in this town for years, this is no real change. All joking aside, it’ll certainly, on game nights, put 50 to 100 more people in our seats, which is significant in a bar.”

Especially when you consider how much those businesses were actually losing each night NHL arenas stood empty and soundless. Bars and pubs were said to feel the hardest hit, with revenues falling to just about 35 per cent. Other small businesses, such as restaurants and hotels, saw a smaller drop of 10 per cent.

Malcolm Fowler, vice president of marketing at Moneris, agrees that small business owners have a lot to gain from the lockout finally coming to an end.

“Retail store owners and bar/restaurant proprietors and wait staff had to be cheering when the news was announced,” he said. “A vibrancy will return to city centres on game days that will be a relief to be sure.”

But it’s not just those business owners. All Canadians should be happy the lockout is over, regardless of their own personal feelings towards the owners or the players for putting them through this grief. That’s because with hockey being back, it means that our GDP won’t takethat $1.8 billion hit it was projected to. Instead, with just half a season being gone, we’ll lose just half of that. And because the full amount has already been taken out of the GDP, we’ll likely see a large turnaround in the upcoming months.

“The good news,” says Mr. Porter, “is that the loss has already been mostly absorbed in the statistics and so what we’ll see is a little bit of a rebound when we finally get January and February’s GDP numbers. We’ll see this tiny bump from the return of the NHL later on this year.”

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