The Council of Capital City Lord Mayors is pleased to release the 2019-20 report of its commissioned research into the Night Time Economy (NTE).

This important research, now in its tenth year, focuses on the Core NTE – comprising Food, Drink and Entertainment businesses – and its associated economic performance in the 2019-20 financial year, depicting the early impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The year 2020 was one unlike any other in modern times. The pandemic wreaked havoc on communities and economies across the globe, and its ongoing nature continues to alter the economic landscape. Lockdowns led to night-time businesses pivoting to new business models (e.g., takeaway, online, outdoor dining) and adapting to physical distancing restrictions, density limits, QR check-ins, the lack of international tourism, new home working arrangements and the postponement or cancellation of events and festivals.

Prior to the pandemic, CCCLM research established that the Australian NTE had achieved a record run of continuous growth, with many years performing better than the total economy, however, the initial impacts of COVID-19 were devastating. 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.

Despite challenging conditions, the number of Core NTE businesses increased +2.5% between June 2019 and June 2020. Melbourne had the greatest increase in Core NTE establishments between June 2019 and June 2020 (+8.9%), followed by Hobart (+7.3%) and Parramatta (+5.5%). While this is positive, these increases are an indication of growth prior to the commencement of the pandemic.

The Core NTE contributed $128 billion in sales turnover in 2019-20, although this was a decline of $12bn (9%) from the previous year. This financial impact on businesses led to one in five night time economy workers losing their jobs. Despite this, in June 2020, the Core NTE accounted for 8.7% of the Australian workforce (895,000 jobs). While recent official data has indicated a partial recovery in employment since June 2020, the latest lockdowns are likely to result in a recurrence of losses for the sector.

CCCLM Chair, Lord Mayor of Brisbane Adrian Schrinner welcomed the 2019-20 research and highlighted the need to support the night time economy. “These figures reflect the initial devastating months of the pandemic, however, many councils quickly mobilised to support their NTE businesses through the introduction of numerous initiatives, including financial assistance, promotional activities, and support to implement outdoor dining and takeaway services” the Lord Mayor said.

The report provides a summary of these local government initiatives along with an overview of NTE performance for each of the fourteen member cities of CCCLM’s Local Government Safe Cities Network.

With many cities developing night time governance initiatives, such as Sydney’s 24-hour Economy Strategy and Melbourne’s Night-time Economy Advisory Committee, this report aims to support these agendas and ensure that Australia can retain and grow its safe and vibrant NTE in a changing world.