MANY businesses remained eerily empty this week, during what is normally one of the busiest times in the Wagga calendar.
Thousands of visitors had been expected to pour into the city this week in the lead up to the Gold Cup, but with all spectators banned from the event, business owners are missing out on that reliable spike in revenue.
Townhouse general manager Andrew Buik said it felt weird to see the streets so empty of foot traffic during what is normally a peak time of year for businesses.
"It's a very unusual feeling this time around to be missing out on all those people who would normally be visiting the town," Mr Buik said.
"The Gold Cup is an integral part of the social seam of Wagga and it's an important economic boost for the city each year, so it's disappointing for everyone."
More than 10,000 people were expected to attend the two-day carnival, which normally translates to millions of dollars generated for the local economy.
The pinch is being felt across the board for those in the hospitality industry, including Uneke Lounge manager Megan Clark who said the restaurant normally enjoyed an influx of diners this time of year.
"It's normally one of the busiest days of the year," Ms Clark said.
As traffic slowed down the restaurant was forced to cut down to a skeleton crew of just two staff, however Ms Clark said it is not all bad news.
Having recently qualified for JobKeeper, the restaurant was able to bolster their roster up to 10 staff and have expanded their opening hours for takeaway.
IN OTHER NEWS:
William Farrer Hotel owner David Barnhill said 28 of his staff also qualified for JobKeeper, which made the absence of the Gold Cup just that much more bearable.
"It's the biggest week for the hospitality business in Wagga, that five-day period," Mr Barnhill said.
"Sure we're disappointed but it's not as devastating as losing your job, so we can't complain. Everyone's doing it tough at the moment."
Mr Barnhill said his business was hurting, but that he still counted himself lucky to be able to provide so many of his staff with an income.
Mr Buik is also holding on to a similarly optimistic mindset, saying he was looking forward to the day when life returned to normal and the streets of Wagga starting filling up with customers once more.
"We do have fairly limited business at the moment during this hibernation period, but trade will begin to pick up again in the accommodation side of things - hopefully in the not too distant future," Mr Buik said.
Although crowds are banned from the event, the Murrumbidgee Turf Club will be streaming presentations on its Facebook page.