Footy fans were back in force for the opening round of the 2023 AFL season, and it wasn’t just pies and sauce on the menu, with spend at Melbourne accommodation, restaurants, bars and pubs pulling in $67 million, according to NAB transaction data*.
This spend is up 24% when compared to the year prior, and a 43% increase from the 2019 opening round. The MCG precinct alone saw a massive increase in money through the tills – up 53% on last year and 211% on pre-pandemic levels.
NAB Executive Business Metro, Julie Rynski, said it was exciting to see local businesses benefitting from the buzz of the AFL.
“Melbourne is renowned as the sporting and food capital of Australia, and it was great to see locals and travelers alike celebrating the national game and using the opportunity to experience the city’s world-class food scene,” Ms Rynski said.
“While some people are being more thoughtful around where and how they spend their money, we do know people love their footy, and we look forward to strong crowds during the next 22 rounds.”
Overall, spend at bars and pubs around Melbourne was up 18% on last year, restaurants were up 23% and fast food saw an increase of 29%. Accommodation also benefited from the hype, with spend up 64% on 2022, and 77% on pre-pandemic levels.
Mathew Everett, owner of iconic Richmond pub, Corner Hotel said that both trade and atmosphere were high over the weekend.
“Everyone is excited for the footy, and the buzz when we’re busy is electric. It creates a great vibe in the venue when it’s full of passionate supporters grabbing a parma and a pint before or after the game,” Mr Everett said.
“Having the AFL so close to Swan St – where you can walk 10 minutes from the MCG to hit the pubs for a beer and a meal – makes for a real entertainment precinct that you don’t get anywhere else.”
Notes to editors:
- Spend estimates taken from NAB merchant terminal data from 16 March 2023 to 19 March 2023 and compared to the 2022 and 2019 AFL opening rounds in Melbourne.
- MCG Precinct is classified as Cremorne, Richmond and East Melbourne.