Analysis of Economic Impact Survey: Business Community’s Reaction to the Papal Visit

Prior to the September 2015 World Meeting of Families (WMOF) and visit of Pope Francis, the City Controller’s Office conducted an economic impact survey to gauge how the business community was preparing for the expected visitors in conjunction with security planning. The initial survey of 250 businesses located inside the so‐called “Traffic Box,” conducted at the end of August and released on September 2, found that the majority of businesses were optimistic about the WMOF/and Papal visit but were deeply concerned about inadequate communication from the Mayor’s Office. The findings were released in an effort to highlight the most pressing concerns from businesses and for event planners to make the appropriate adjustments.

Immediately following the WMOF/Papal Visit, the Controller’s Office conducted a snap poll of businesses to gain immediate feedback. To obtain more detailed information, the Controller’s Office resurveyed the same 250 businesses, hand‐delivering surveys to hotels, restaurants and retail businesses inside the traffic box. The surveys were delivered on September 30 and respondents were asked to complete the survey by October 6, 2015. By that date, 108 responses had been received.

The Controller’s survey found the following:

  • 85% said that revenue this September compared to prior Septembers was either significantly or somewhat less than average
  • 84% said that depressed business activity placed their business either significantly or somewhat behind yearly projections
  • 89% said the way the Nutter Administration handled the Papal visit hurt business or led them to close during the WMOF/Papal Visit.
  • 92 of the 108 responses said lack of business was the largest challenge they faced

Along with answering the survey’s questions, many respondents also provided comments regarding their concerns following the weekend of the Papal visit, including the following:

“Because numbers don't lie: Sales from September 26‐28, 2014:$27,959, Sales from September 25‐27. 2015: $14,286.” ‐ Local Restaurateur

“What would normally be a busy week of service, was quite a dismal week. It actually put us in the red and had to borrow money to make payroll…” ‐ Local Restaurateur

“Immensely overstocked and overstaffed in anticipation for potentially the busiest weekend in the history of the restaurant. Worst weekend in the history of the restaurant. Thanks!” – Local Restaurateur

The detailed results of the survey and comments provided by businesses are included in the subsequent pages of this analysis.

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