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News September 22, 2021

How COVID smashed Australia’s night time economy

Senior Journalist, B2B
How COVID smashed Australia’s night time economy

A new report has highlighted the pandemic’s immediate impact on the night-time economy.

“The initial impacts of COVID-19 were devastating,” points out The Measuring The Australian Night Time Economy (2019-20), issued by The Council of Capital City Lord Mayors.

“In April 2020, more than half of accommodation and food services businesses were receiving JobKeeper payments, while by June 2020, 84% reported a decline in revenue, and the majority of these had lost more than half their income.”

This research, now in its 10th year, focuses on the Core NTE – food, drink and entertainment.

The Core NTE contributed $128 billion in sales turnover in 2019-20. But this was a decline of $12 billion (9%) from the previous year.

As a result, one in five night time economy workers lost their jobs. Despite this, in June 2020, the Core NTE accounted for 8.7% of the Australian workforce (895,000 jobs).

Creative and performing arts lost 15,295 workers from March to June 2020, down 32%.

Of the 14 cities in the study, Sydney continued to have the highest density of Core NTE outlets, with over 191 establishments per square kilometre.

Melbourne grew to 74 per square kilometre, up from 68 in 2018/19. After that, the greatest growth rate was in Hobart (+7.3%) and Parramatta (+5.5%).

Perth (-2.4%), Northern Beaches Sydney (-1.3%), Canberra (-0.4%) and the Gold Coast (-0.2%) experienced decline.

Prior to COVID-19’s impact, the live music element of the NTE was expanding. This inclued nightclubs stressing safety and pushing more non-alcoholic offerings, and shows taking place in more diverse spaces such as hairdressers, unused offices, art galleries and bookshops with extended opening hours.

Three cities are working on rebooting their NTEs as growing vaccination rates open up doors.

The City of Melbourne will vote to urge the State Government to green-light the vaccine passport scheme at venues including Garden State Hotel, Cherry Bar, San Telmo and Asado for fully vaccinated patrons and staff.

The pilot is endorsed by the newly formed Night Time Economy Advisory Committee (NTEAC).

South Australia kicked off its $700,000 FOMO Fridays four-week scheme on September 17 to encourage people into Adelaide’s CBD with concerts, street & house parties, art installations, yoga, basketball, restaurant vouchers, and free parking to amp up spending in city businesses.

NSW’s inaugural NSW 24-hour commissioner Michael Rodrigues continues to talk to stakeholders on proposals as the neon grid which links Sydney councils after dark and a ‘purple flag’ system where towns that can guarantee a diverse, safe and enjoyable night out get accreditation with a purple flag symbol.


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