By Patryk Goron

On April 8th this year an extraordinary event took place – a total solar eclipse moved across North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada casting a huge shadow on those parts of the world.

A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun. The sky will darken as if it were dawn or dusk.

It had been the first total solar eclipse visible from the US since 2017, which 154 million Americans had the chance to experience. Over twice that number were in the path of this year’s eclipse.

Furthermore, according to NASA, this year’s eclipse was set to last three to four minutes longer than the last one. People who missed that, unfortunately will not be able to see another in the US until 2044 or 2045.

But what effect has it had on the US economy? Has it been at any point impactful, has it caused anything in today’s world ruled by money?

The answer is definitely YES, since according to an analysis by The Perryman Group, the total economic impact, including secondary downstream effects, could be as much as a $6 billion boost to the US economy.

The Great American Eclipse, an informational website that records solar eclipses worldwide, estimated that one to four million people would have travelled for the eclipse. The days preceding the eclipse were predicted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be among the busiest travel days of the year, with 50,670 flights on Thursday, April 4, and 48,904 flights on Friday, April 5.

Indianapolis for example was expecting approximately 100,000 people for the eclipse, according to Chris Gahl, CEO of the city’s tourism marketing organisation, who believed that the visitors will generate $28 million to $48 million for the city, which is used to host large events, including this year’s NBA All-Star Game and the NFL’s scouting combine.

Factors such as the date of the eclipse and the number of states in the path of totality ensured that millions of people were able to witness the event.

It is not surprising then that such a rare phenomenon has made visitors from all over the world flock to the 115-mile-wide band of the U.S., stretching from Texas to Maine to see a total solar eclipse.

They spent money on everything from huge surges in demand for hotels, flights and rental cars to meals, the filling up of gas tanks at local gas stations, tickets for events, souvenirs and post-eclipse bottles of champagne. It was like having 50 Super Bowls happening at the same time across the country.

Numerous locations along the path of totality had been preparing for the impending influx of tourists and cash for months, if not years. Over the course of the nine-county Greater Rochester region, 300,000 to 500,000 visitors were anticipated in Rochester, New York. The weekend before the event, local companies were offering a variety of deals and events, such as eclipse-themed beers from nearby breweries and a three-day pass to the Rochester Museum and Science Centre.

Moreover, the area’s tourism board said that some hotels had reported demand skyrocketing an average of 1200% for the four-day span leading up to April 8, unusual demand for a Monday in the region’s off-peak season.

Also, tourism officials in Austin, Texas, reported higher-than-usual hotel occupancy rates for the weekend before and the day of the eclipse.

On the other hand, retail was significantly impacted by the eclipse as well, with national companies capitalising on the publicity.

During this remarkable phenomenon, sales increased significantly for retailers such as souvenir shops, convenience stores, and specialty outlets. Given the need for Americans to safely observe the eclipse in totality, the demand for special ISO-certified glasses increased. Solar eclipse glasses, which cost an average of $2 each, produced more than $100 million in sales for this product category alone.

Other retailers launched a number of special products and discounts in connection with the eclipse, capitalising on its popularity to attract more customers. These options included limited edition merchandise, bundled packages, and unique bargains targeted at increasing sales, such as 7-Eleven letting customers order a pizza for $3 and receive a pair of eclipse glasses.

Experts and economists also note that the solar eclipse may have a long-term impact on the US economy, since every single one of those visitors is a potential future visitor to the same area as well.

All of that only proves how one unusual and exceptional event might have a massive impact on the economy and as a result influence merchants, hotels, restaurants, petrol stations and local small businesses for that matter.