New credit and debit card data from the first weekend of the new NHL season shows Vancouver hockey fans are spending the most in the country on restaurants, bars, and merchandise.

Restaurant sales were up 19 per cent in Vancouver for the Canucks’ season-opener Jan. 19 while bar sales were up 34 per cent, according to Moneris, a payment processing company. The spike in numbers for an NHL game was the best in the country.

Some Vancouver businesses noticed the difference right away.

“Yeah, it’s pretty drastic for us, being a sports bar,” said Tim Murphy, general manager for the Shark Club.

Though some anticipated fans would return slowly after the NHL lockout, “We’ve noticed the exact opposite here,” Murphy said, adding sales were up nearly 30 per cent.

Fans broke records after Canucks ownership announced a half-off jersey sale to start the season, snapping up 8,500 jerseys throughout the team’s first three home games.

Meanwhile, data obtained from social media search engine found that the Canucks were tweeted about 30 per cent more than their hated rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“People love the Canucks, not just because they love hockey but they like feeling like a part of this community of Canucks fans,” said Alexandra Samuel, vice-president of social media at Vision Critical.

“What social media does really well is help you find your people.”

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s St. John Alexander