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Deloitte report reveals city's underperforming night-life economy


Poor old Sydney. Our restaurants closed when the sun is still out, everyone under 65 is bored and miserable, and various bars and clubs – minus that big old casino, of course – are struggling to stay open.

But here's something else to get into our depressing cauldron: Sydney also loses about $ 16 billion a year due to underdeveloped night-time economy.

The Deloitte Access Economics report, called ImagineSydney: Play, examines the city's total night-time economy – that is, our income based on activities that occur between 6pm and 6am every day.

The current estimate of Sydney's night-time economy is $ 27.2 billion per annum – still the strongest and most concentrated in Australia.

But this only makes up 3.8 percent of the nation's economy. In the United Kingdom, total night-time income makes up 6 percent of nation's economy.

In other words, if Greater Sydney matched the UK's rate, it would bring additional $ 16 billion a year.

Report co-author and Deloitte Access Economics partner Kathryn Matthews said the annual value of Sydney's night-time economy could exceed $ 43 billion if we looked at the untapped potential.

"The night-time economy currently accounts for 3.8 percent of Australian economy, but this figure is 6 percent in the UK, suggesting there is a real upside potential for Sydney," she said. "If we intended for 6 percent, and more effectively nurtured and supported night-time infrastructure and activities, we estimate the annual value of Sydney's night time economy could be more than $ 43 billion through increased spending and more employment and tourism."

The controversial lockout laws of 2014 have forced several establishments to close, and there are far less people on the streets than before, but the report notes this is only part of the problem.

"It's reductive to think of Sydney's night-time economy as simply pubs and clubs, or the lack of them," the report says.

It says a number of sectors would need to expand their night-time services, ranging from restaurants and bars to arts and culture, entertainment and fitness centers.

"A vibrant night-time economy creates a range of opportunities for providers and users; from 24-hour gyms and supermarkets to late-night art galleries, to extended shopping and transportation choices, "the report continued.

Despite a widespread appetite for more options, Sydney's main night-time spending activity by a landslide is grocery shopping, research shows.

An alarming Committee For Sydney report released last year, which similarly highlighted our struggling night-time economy, suggested we look at Adelaide for inspiration.

It noted over 700 shops operating late Thursday and Friday night in South Australia's capital, while the city has encouraged new small bars and cafes in its CBD.

This essentially puts Sydney's smaller sibling more on par with major world cities like Berlin, London and Hong Kong.

The researchers noted 36 percent of Berlin's commercial income comes after 6pm. In London, it's 34 percent. In Hong Kong and San Francisco, it's 33 percent.

In Sydney – a "world city" often compared with these big players – it's just 23 percent, and 21 percent in the CBD specifically.

To make things worse, most of that expenditure is on food and groceries, suggesting Sydneysiders spending their nights indoors with boxed wine and microwavable meals.

At the same time, while live performance and entertainment account for almost four percent of London's night-time spending, Sydney sits at a measly 0.1 percent.

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