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Inner Melbourne night-time economy booming despite dip in alcohol sales

Food places have accounted for 71 per cent of the 30,000-plus jobs and two-thirds of turnover in the inner-city night economy. Picture: Tim Carrafa. Courtesy: Herald Sun

Inner Melbourne’s night time economy is booming despite a dip in alcohol sales, says a new report.

Food sales jumped by 12 per cent in 2016-17, helping to increase the night economy by $197 million to a total turnover of $3.2 billion.

The City of Melbourne boasts 2360 cafes and restaurants with nearly 200,000 seats.

Alcoholic drink sales were down six per cent to $307 million last year, according to the Local Government Safe Communities’ Network Australian Night Time Economy Report.

It said that food places accounted for 71 per cent of the 30,000-plus jobs and two-thirds of turnover in the inner city night economy.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said that over the past 30 years central Melbourne had been transformed into a dynamic 24-hour city.

“We brought residents back into a city and our partnerships with the state government on major events such as White Night have put Melbourne on the map as a truly global city,” she said.

“It’s particularly pleasing that drink sales are down given that we now have up to a million people visiting the city each day.”

Chair of the city council’s small business, retail and hospitality portfolio, Cr Susan Riley,

said the City of Melbourne had been working hard to activate the city at night.

“We’re continuing to work with Victoria Police and licensees to ensure people feel safe in the city throughout the evening and into the night,” she said.

“The availability of 24-hour public transport on weekends, and more family-friendly entertainment means there are more reasons than ever to enjoy the city at night.”

Nationally, the night time economy generated $127 billion last year, up 3.4 per cent on 2015-16.

Food businesses were the main economic driver, rising from 57 per cent of the sector in 2009 to 63 per cent last year.

Across Australia, the night time economy comprised 106,000 businesses employing more than one million people.