LETHBRIDGE -- The University of Lethbridge’s decision to shift classes online to prevent the spread of COVID-19 was done for health reasons. And like a lot of decisions made around minimizing the spread of the novel coronavirus, it has an economic impact as well.

"September and October, compared to last year we’re definitely down for our Thursdays and Saturdays,” said Great Canadian Liquor store manager Jacob Moore.

The store is located a block away from the University of Lethbridge campus.

“We rely on parties and the students going out and with residence only being partly full and parties being discouraged we’ve definitely seen a huge impact with that,” said Moore.

Out of 8,200 students enrolled at the post-secondary school, 5,100 of those are residing away from the city.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I didn’t want to go and spend rent to just do the same thing I’m doing here,” said U of L student Evan Waterhouse.

Waterhouse is getting his education back home in Banff. For everything his home can provide, it can't fulfill a university experience.

“I’ll occasionally go to Duke’s or Brown’s on the Westside. Sometimes I go to the downtown core but not much,” said Waterhouse.

The Duke Pub and Grill is only a couple hundred meters away from the U of L campus. Their proximity is a big hit among students.   

“We’ve definitely seen a drop off in our sales and the amount of students in here is just way down,” said Duke Pub and Grill manager Kieran Meeks. “In September that’s one of our busiest months of the year and then this September they’re down 20 to 30 per cent.”

During the 2019-2020 academic calendar year, University of Lethbridge students spent approximately $77 million in the Lethbridge area. For 2020-2021, student spending is estimated at $33 million.

The University recently announced its winter semester will continue with online learning. That’s not the best news for business looking for some relief.

“I don’t plan on being in Lethbridge in the second semester,” said Waterhouse.

Lethbridge College is also keeping its winter semester online.   

More than just bars and liquor stores are being impacted by the drop in students in Lethbridge. City transit ridership is down to 30 per cent. City council says it will be discussing the possibility of reducing transit at the Oct. 26 meeting.