The Melbourne Cup is the horse race that stops the nation spending — but only for a few minutes. Tens of millions are spent on food, drink and gambling on cup day and even those Australians who don’t normally bet will do on that one day of the year.
Cash withdrawals from ATMs surge in the lead up but data from the Commonwealth Bank shows how spending falls around Australia during the big race itself.
CBA shared this data showing the activity across its transaction network yesterday. You can see exactly when the race is on:
This year, credit and debit card transactions dropped 33% between 3pm and 3.05pm, according to CBA data. The drop is even steeper from 2.55pm to 3.05pm, at 38%.
This year for the first time CBA has also provided data on taxi and Uber usage, showing giant surges in activity as people travel to their various venues to watch the race, and then another explosion in activity in the late afternoon and evening as people either leave or kick on to the next venue.
Taxi and Uber usage peaks first around at midday, up 65% on the same day and time the previous week, as people head to cup functions.
This then falls 37% between midday and the opening of the gates at 3pm.
Taxi and Uber usage peaks again at 7pm, up 52% on the same day the previous week, as people head home or find somewhere with accommodating door staff.
Commonwealth Bank Executive General Manager Pete Steel said Melbourne cup has always been a very unique day.
“We don’t see a consistent trend like this on any other day of the year – where spending drops off dramatically during an exact moment in time.
“Our transaction data shows a steady increase in activity throughout the morning, peaking at 1pm, followed by a sharp fall when the horses jump at 3pm. For the five minutes between the start of the race and when the winner is announced – the economy holds its breath,” Steel said.
“Once the race is over, we’re back spending, but there is a steady decline for the rest of the afternoon – which is pretty consistent with the drop off at the end of a normal day.”