The Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM) is pleased to release its latest iteration of its commissioned research Measuring the Australian Night Time Economy 2020 – 2021. CCCLM has been commissioning this research since 2009, it provides analysis of trends across numbers of establishments operating between 6pm and 6am, and reports on employment and reported sales data across the food, drinks and entertainment sectors.

The 2020-21 report highlights the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic had at the beginning of the outbreak, and demonstrates the various support provided to this sector by local governments.

CCCLM Chair, Lord Mayor of Perth Basil Zempilas welcomed the findings “this report reflects the resilience of this sector, and whilst there have been negative impacts across employment and business during the financial year, the sector recovered in most areas despite the ongoing lockdowns, lockouts and restrictions that were most severely imposed on this sector”. Prior to the pandemic, the sector had been growing at a healthy rate which is reflected across the ten years that the CCCLM has been conducting this research.

“Whilst recovery has been demonstrated during the financial year of 2020-21, the growth across most of the sub-sectors had not returned to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the financial year (June 2021), clearly the sector was still experiencing losses. Today, capital cities’ own evidence reflects weekend visitations are at pre-pandemic levels, however the mid-week continues to be impacted by less people working in our cities, impacting on both day and night time economies”.

Key outcomes:

Employment rebounded but remained below pre-pandemic levels

Following devastating employment losses in the first three months of the pandemic to June 2020 (-20%), employment in Australia’s Core NTE employment had rebounded by June 2021 (+18%) to more than 1.05m workers. Despite the rebound, employment remained 7% below pre-pandemic levels, with 73k fewer positions – pushing Core NTE employment back to levels recorded in 2016.

Sales turnover recovery slower in Entertainment

In 2020/21, Core NTE sales turnover increased to $133bn, but remained $6.2bn (-5%) below the 2019/20 pre-pandemic baseline – in line with 2017/18 levels. This was driven by the Entertainment sub-sector, which remained -15% below the 2018/19 pre-pandemic baseline, likely due to the close-contact nature of many of the sub-sector’s activities. The Drink sub-sector, surpassed the baseline, while the Food sub-sector had almost returned to pre-pandemic levels (noting that the food sector includes take away as well as restaurants).

Record establishment growth

Despite the pandemic uncertainty, in the 2020/21 financial year, Australia’s Core NTE recorded the highest percentage growth (+8%) in establishments since records began in 2009. The sector gained 9,590 businesses, bringing the total to 123,300. Potential reasons for this include strong consumer demand as restrictions lifted and entrepreneurs acting in response to government stimulus packages.

Victoria and NSW had the greatest establishment growth

New South Wales (+11%) and Victoria (+9%) had the greatest percentage and absolute growth in Core NTE establishments in 2020/21. The strong Victorian state level growth was not matched in Melbourne (+4%), with most of Victoria’s growth occurring within the wider Greater Melbourne area, outside of the capital city.

Continuing shift from Drink to Entertainment and Food

In 2020/21:

  • The Food sub-sector gained 6,796 businesses (+10%), driven by Cafes and Restaurants (+6,147 / +14%).
  • The Entertainment sub-sector also had noteworthy establishment growth (+2,395 / +7%), particularly within the Creative and Performing Arts (+1,054 / +7%), Sports and Physical Recreation (+955 / +10%) and Brothel Keeping and Prostitution (+62 /+20%) industries.
  • Drink establishments rose at a slower rate (+399 / +5%) continuing an existing trend of a shift away from Drink towards a more diverse range of night time activities.

The report is available here: Measuring-the-Australian-NTE-2020-21