Data After Dark: Key Takeaway Points on Adelaide’s Night Time Economy

Last updated 03 Aug, 2023
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On Monday 24 July, the Adelaide Economic Development Agency's (AEDA) industry briefing, Data After Dark, shed light on Adelaide’s evolving night time economy (NTE).

Guests heard from three prominent speakers who shared invaluable insights on various aspects, including the impact of year-round festivals and cultural precincts, the influence of the pandemic on consumer habits, how Adelaide's NTE compares to other states in Australia, and a glimpse of the city's future prospects.

Leading the evening was Co-Founder and Creative Director of Illuminate Adelaide Rachael Azzopardi, who served as the master of ceremonies. The event welcomed Anna Edwards, Director of Ingenium Research, specialising in night time economies, AEDA's Economic Research and Data Analyst Jordon Tomopoulos, and Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier, all of whom provided unique perspectives on the subject.

Below are some key takeaways from each presenter.

Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier

Douglas, Douglas Gautier AM joined the Adelaide Festival Centre (AFC) in 2006 and, since then, has initiated a major program-led revival. The approach has increased audiences and positioned the Centre as a hub for Asian-Australian cultural engagement.

Below are Douglas’ key takeaways on how the Adelaide Festival Centre, Her Majesty’s Theatre and the Riverbank Precinct contribute to Adelaide’s NTE:

  • The Adelaide Festival Centre presents a diverse year-round events program, featuring five exciting festivals (including the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, OzAsia Festival, DreamBIG Children’s Festival, Adelaide Guitar Festival, and OUR MOB), alongside music, theatre, art, and exhibitions.
  • Annually, the Adelaide Festival Centre and Her Majesty’s Theatre draw an impressive attendance of 1 million visitors, with 14% coming from international locations and 110,000 from interstate.
  • Ensuring Adelaide remains a prominent destination for musical programs is a top priority for the Adelaide Festival Centre. This strategy aims to encourage local visitation and reduce outbound interstate travel where possible. One successful example is the remarkable ticket sales of Mary Poppins, exceeding 100,000 tickets sold.
  • In 2016, Adelaide was honoured as the first Australian city to receive the prestigious UNESCO City of Music title, recognising its commitment to music and creativity over many years.
  • The Riverbank Precinct boasts exceptional potential for the NTE, with its world-class infrastructure offering arts, entertainment, sports, and recreation—all conveniently accessible within walking distance from hotels and public spaces. This exceptional offering stands out on an international and interstate scale.

Ingenium Research Director Anna Edwards

Anna, a highly experienced economic researcher, specialising in night time economies, covered four areas, including an introduction to the night time economy (NTE)​, post-pandemic challenges and opportunities​, changing consumer habits, and further economic data.

Below are Anna’s key takeaways with some insights specific to Adelaide’s NTE:

  • The NTE is typically defined as all economic activity taking place between 6:00pm and 6:00am, with a focus on the "Core NTE" encompassing food, drink, and entertainment/leisure.
  • The concept of the 24-hour economy is gaining traction as traditional daytime activities increasingly shift to night time.
  • The NTE is gaining global significance, leading to the emergence of night mayors and committees in various cities, aimed at attracting people back to city centres.
  • Cities are transitioning from strict regulations to providing support for night time activities and businesses, targeting a broader demographic beyond the 18-24 age group, including families and older individuals.
  • Back in 2019, Ingenium carried out a project for CCCLM to investigate global night time data and best practice. This led using data from Google Maps to better understand NTE business clustering and opening hours activity.
  • Opportunities in the changing times lie in promoting human connections and nightlife to reinvigorate city centres, striking a balance between daytime and night time economies, embracing technology to meet changing consumer demands, and capitalising on the return of international travel and students.
  • Challenges facing NTEs globally, including in Adelaide, involve reduced footfall in city offices due to remote work, fluctuations in consumer spending influenced by rising interest rates and living costs, and ongoing staff shortages and low wages in the hospitality sector.
Regarding Adelaide specifically:
  • Adelaide boasts the highest density of Core NTE, food and drink businesses per residential population among the 88 local government areas analysed.
  • There is untapped potential for Adelaide cafés and restaurants to capitalise on increased demand during evening hours, with a significant number of them currently closed during peak night time periods.
    • From 6:00pm to 9:00pm, 73% of cafes are closed (175 businesses) while 17% of restaurants are closed (38 businesses).
    • From 9:00pm to midnight, 82% of cafes are closed (197 businesses), 38% of restaurants are closed (84 businesses), 55% of takeaways are closed (41 businesses) and 69% of gyms are closed (43 businesses).
  • Live music plays a vital role in diversifying night time activities and supporting creativity and culture in the city, although it faced challenges during the pandemic. South Australia's live performance industry, especially festivals, demonstrated resilience during challenging times, attracting substantial attendance, and contributing significantly to revenue.
    • In 2021 festivals emerged as the largest revenue-generating category, contributing $25 million, and attracted the highest attendance with 1 million attendees, suggesting their popularity despite the challenging circumstances.
    • Contemporary music events generated $11 million in revenue and attracted 212,000 attendees, while classical music performances contributed $6 million in revenue and had an audience of 77,000 people.

AEDA Economic Research and Data Analyst Jordon Tomopoulos

Jordon monitors the city’s economy and provides insight into an array of focus areas, supporting the evaluation of initiatives to inform strategic decisions at AEDA. Using his tertiary qualifications in economics and background in market research, Jordon uses both quantitative and qualitative research to analyse data and provide meaning to economic trends.

Below are Jordon’s key takeaways on Adelaide’s economic trends in consumer expenditure behaviour, foot-traffic and mobility data:

  • Spending during nighttime hours (between 6:00pm and 6:00am) has been on the rise and now constitutes almost one-third of all spending in the City of Adelaide.
  • Despite flexible working arrangements, people increasingly view the city as a destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment, not just a place to work.
  • Expenditure between Monday to Friday (working hours) is not declining, although expenditure outside of work hours (6:00pm – 6:00am and on weekends) has grown at three times the rate of work hours. The night time economy has experienced rapid growth, outpacing the daytime economy by three times since 2019.
  • Dining and entertainment constitute the largest portion (three-quarters) of night time spending in Adelaide, with major contributors including SkyCity Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, the city’s evolving restaurant scene, as well as festivals and events.
    • Friday night shopping is in Rundle Mall, is also a key component to Adelaide’s night time economy that connects people to dining and entertainment.
  • When we combine all activity indicators that being with foot-traffic, parking, public transport, e-scooters and spending into a statistical model, overall activity levels in the city have been high off the back of a strong April and May.
  • Many challenges of the NTE were addressed such as the costs of establishing a venue, the price of going out, antisocial behaviour and population constraints.
  • Opportunities to grow the NTE were explored such as attracting the best artists/events, utilising our infrastructure, activating mid-week trade and bring new never before seen ideas to Adelaide.
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