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Sydney’s night-time economy bouncing back

City of Sydney 3 mins read
Sydney Streets_Surry Hills_Katherine Griffiths

Latest data released today by the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM) has reported an uptick in Sydney’s night-time economy with a growing number of establishments across the city and a boost in overall sales turnover.


Notable increases were reported across the retail, accommodation, food, drink, leisure and entertainment sectors, highlighting an opportunity for more consumer facing businesses to adjust their trading patterns to service the growing night-time demand.


The Measuring the Australian Night Time Economy Report covers the 2021/2022 financial year, and despite the impact of Covid restrictions during part of this period, reported encouraging results for Sydney’s night-time economy.


“It’s heartening to see the trajectory of these results as we want to keep our city safe, open and welcoming for everyone at all times of day,” Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore AO said.


“For years our communities have told us they want a vibrant night-time city where businesses big and small can flourish.


“The report highlights an opportunity for businesses to extend, improve or diversify their evening activities to support a more interesting and successful night-time economy.”


Of the 89 local government areas analysed in the report, Sydney hosts the highest density of night-time establishments per square kilometre in Australia. Across the week, most businesses remain open at some point on a Thursday night, (particularly for late night shopping), and Friday and Saturday nights have the highest concentration of businesses operating in later hours from 9pm to 3am.


Highlights of Sydney’s economic performance at night include:


  • Overall establishments grew by 17% from pre-pandemic levels to 5,941 with a sales turnover of $4.7 billion – an increase of 4% from pre-pandemic levels.
  • Accommodation grew by 19% to 557 establishments, increasing employment by 8% and turnover to $1.2 billion annually.
  • Retail increased by 2% to 2,678 establishments, increasing employment by 7% and turnover to $5.6 billion annually.
  • The leisure and entertainment sub-sector grew by 14% to 1,118 establishments with a sales turnover increasing by 4% to more than $1.2 million.
  • The number of food businesses grew by 4% to 4,088, reporting a 6% increase in turnover to $2.7 million
  • The number of drink businesses grew by 10% to 735, reporting a 12% increase in turnover to $809 million.
  • Employees working in the food sector rose by 7% to almost 21,000.


Contributing to the report’s results, the City implemented a range of initiatives and worked with key stakeholders to support businesses and consumers to participate in and boost Sydney’s 24-hour economy:


Outdoor dining program


Since it commenced in November 2020, the City has approved 679 outdoor dining applications and waived more than $5.3 million of footway dining fees. 


In a March 2022 survey, 91% of participants reported the program was either beneficial or crucial to their business; 74% had employed an additional one or more staff per week and 39% had experienced up to a 20% increase in turnover.


Given the success of the program, the City has extended it to December 2024, with fee waivers in place until June 2025.


Grants and funding


The City provided approximately $3.7 million in grant funding to nightlife businesses and creative enterprises. 41 night-time diversification and live music and performance grants were awarded, and 14 precinct activation grants were awarded to support collaborative partnerships between businesses, creatives and communities that renew and transform the city centre, local precincts, and neighbourhoods.


In addition, the City waived $2.9 million in rent relief for creative spaces, short term vacant properties, creative accommodation and live/work tenancies.




More than 3,600 businesses attended a 9-week webinar series for small businesses to help them adapt, innovate and improve their digital skills. More than 90% of attendees reported that the knowledge gained would help them grow.


Business innovation program


A free, 10-week accelerator program supported 20 local small retail, hospitality and tourism businesses to develop and nurture entrepreneurial skills.


In 2013, the CCCLM released its first report examining the value of the night-time economy across Australia and has since reported annually on financial year results. Other capital cities included in the research include Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne and Perth, and local government areas from Maroondah and Newcastle to Parramatta and Penrith.


View the complete Measuring the Australian Night Time Economy Report here.


For media enquiries or images, contact Elaine Kelly.

Phone 0477 362 550 or email


For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore contact Paul Mackay.

Phone 0436 816 604 or email


For more stories, visit City of Sydney News


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