Warrnambool residents dined and danced the city towards economic recovery across the New Year period, spending $90 million more than the previous year despite concerns of a shadow COVID-19 lockdown.
Latest 'Spendmapp' data from Warrnambool City Council shows spending in the city is trending upwards, with the total amount spent in 2021 estimated at $910 million, an increase of 11 per cent on the previous year.
The majority of that total local spend - about 80 per cent - came from seven sectors, the largest of which included grocery stores and supermarkets ($178 million) and dining and entertainment ($162 million).
Other categories included professional services ($95 million) transport ($88 million) department stores and clothing ($82 million) specialised luxury goods ($79 million) and specialised food retailing ($66 million).
Data for those sectors does not include house purchases or business-to-business invoices paid by electronic transfer.
Overall figures for the year were boosted by particularly strong spending from October to December which totalled $264 million.
Of that, $104 million was spent in December alone, which was a nine per cent increase on the previous year ($96 million in 2020).
Images Restaurant owner Jonathan Dodwell said October to January was his busiest period in a while.
"We were pretty busy from October when things really started to take off again," he said.
"I can't complain, we were pretty busy right the way through. The locals have been fantastic to be honest - many people said they'd come out to support local and they did. They backed that up and came to support us, they realised businesses were struggling and wanted to keep us open."
He said in his experience, hospitality fared the "best" of all industries during that period.
"There's a lot of pent up spending to be done," he said.
"People had gotten used to going out fairly regularly because they weren't able to for a long period of time, they were just itching to get out again. You also had the better weather going into December which only helped the situation for us."
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Warrnambool City Council director of city growth Andrew Paton said the latest figures were a "positive result".
"This spending data release is a positive result for Warrnambool, showing strong levels of consumer confidence," Mr Paton said.
"(It) is probably reflective of the national picture where household personal savings (the ratio of household income saved to household net disposable income over a certain period) have been at some of the highest levels since the mid 1980s.
"During COVID restrictions some sectors have been more adversely impacted than others and it is important to acknowledge that these sectors have been operating in tough conditions and compounded by significant staff shortages.
"However the underlying economic conditions in Warrnambool remain strong and this spending data release is further evidence that should strengthen consumer and business confidence through 2022."
According to the data, $230 million was also spent locally from January to March, while April to June totalled $218 million and July to September totalled $198 million.
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