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Australian cities are still struggling to recover from the pandemic at night

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Cities across Australia are finally starting to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, but one industry is lagging far behind the rest, a damning new report reveals

The report of the Council of Lord Mayors of Capital Cities for 2020-2021 was published. on measuring Australia’s economy overnight, with a state-by-state breakdown showing the struggles across the country.

The council’s chairman, Lord Mayor of Perth Basil Zempilas, said the sector had recovered in most areas despite the constant blackouts, lockdowns and restrictions at the height of the pandemic.

“Before the pandemic, the sector was growing at a healthy pace,” he said.

“While recovery was shown during the 2020-21 financial year, growth in most sub-sectors did not return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of the (2021) financial year; Clearly, the sector is still experiencing losses.

“Today, the capital cities’ own data shows that weekend footfall is at pre-pandemic levels, but midweek is still affected by fewer people working in our cities, which affects the day and night-time economy.”

Camera iconBy the end of fiscal year 2021, growth in most subsectors had not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Jake Nowakowski credit: News Corp Australia

MAIN FINDINGS:

  • After devastating job losses in the first three months of the pandemic through June 2020, employment recovered to more than one million workers by June 2021, but remained seven percent below pre-pandemic levels;
  • In 2020-2021, core overnight trade in the economy increased to $133 billion, but remained $6.2 billion below the 2019-2020 pre-pandemic baseline, driven by the entertainment subsector;
  • Since records began, 2009 saw the highest growth in establishments: 9,590 enterprises appeared in the sector, bringing the total number to 123,300;
  • The food sub-sector gained 6,796 businesses, driven by cafes and restaurants, while the entertainment sub-sector grew by 2,395, notably in creative and performing arts (1,054), sports and physical recreation (955), and brothels/prostitution (62); and
  • The number of alcohol establishments grew at a slower pace, adding 399 establishments, continuing the existing trend away from alcohol consumption to a more diverse range of nighttime activities.
In 2020-2021, core overnight sales in economy increased to $133 billion, but remained $6.2 billion below the 2019-2020 pre-pandemic baseline, driven by the entertainment subsector.
Camera iconIn 2020-2021, core overnight sales in economy increased to $133 billion, but remained $6.2 billion below the 2019-2020 pre-pandemic baseline, driven by the entertainment subsector. credit: News Regional media

VICTORIA

Victoria showed strength in its food sub-sector (+10 per cent in businesses), with food employment up one per cent above pre-pandemic levels but sales still three per cent lower.

Main employment in the night-time economy as a whole fell one percent below 2018-19.

The numbers point to a strong return to pre-pandemic levels.

The biggest growth occurred in most of Melbourne, outside the capital.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, growth in main night-time economic establishments was 11 per cent in 2020-2021, the highest in the country.

Business growth in NSW was driven by its food sub-sector (+13 per cent), with NSW’s Dine and Discover program and the 24-hour economy strategy cited as important factors.

Kitchen Conf - Molo Bar
Camera iconIn New South Wales, growth in main night-time economic establishments was 11 per cent in 2020-2021, the highest in the country. Damian Shaw credit: News Corp Australia

QUEENSLAND

In Queensland, the core night-time economy is slightly below pre-pandemic employment levels, down 2.6 per cent, with sales down almost nine per cent, despite the high number of establishments.

The growth of food establishments (+6.8 percent) and entertainment (+8.5 percent) was especially strong.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

In terms of trade, WA had the strongest growth (+14 per cent) after falling by four per cent from 2018-19 to 2019-20.

Washington was one of the few states where sales surpassed pre-pandemic levels, thanks to strong growth in liquor retail, cafes and restaurants.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Similar to WA, but growth in 2020-21 has not reached 2018-19 levels (-0.5 per cent).

bartender pours whiskey in front of glass and whiskey bottles
Camera iconWashington was one of the few states where sales surpassed pre-pandemic levels, thanks to strong growth in liquor retail, cafes and restaurants. credit: Delivered

TASMANIAIn terms of employment, Tasmania had the biggest increase of 25 per cent after a 10 per cent drop last year.

This means employment is now 13 per cent higher than in 2018-19 thanks to strong growth in food and drink, but turnover is still four per cent lower than in 2018-19.

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The nation’s capital is the only area to beat pre-pandemic employment figures, up 8.5 percent from 2018-19.

Trade turnover increased by 2.9 percent, the main factor of which was food and beverages.

NORTH EDGE

The top end is still well below 2018-19 figures for employment (-16 per cent) and turnover (-6.5 per cent), mainly due to a slow recovery in entertainment.

https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/australias-cities-still-struggling-with-post-pandemic-night-time-recovery-c-8323903

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