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Adelaide's night-time booze bust

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Alcohol sales have dragged down Adelaide’s night-time economy while the food and entertainment sectors have boomed, a new report says.

A report on the night-time economy by the National Local Government Drug and Alcohol Committee (NLGDAAC) released this week shows liquor and pub sales in the Adelaide local government area dropped by $18 million over the five years to 2013.

Employment in alcohol sales dropped by nearly 10 per cent – more than 200 jobs – during that period.

Adelaide’s night time economy revenue, which grew by 7.1 per cent, was the second-weakest among Australia’s capital cities.

Perth’s night-time economy was the worst-off, where an $80 million hit to alcohol revenues brought its night-time economy revenue growth to just 1.6%.

On average across Australia, liquor sales and pub revenues failed to keep pace with inflation.

Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese said he was confident alcohol sales in the city will have jumped since 2013 with the rise of the city’s small bar scene.

“I would expect to see a lift, absolutely, just based on the success of those venues and the numbers of them,” he told InDaily.

“Those small licenced venues seem to be responding to what the market wants.

“We haven’t seen those figures in this report, but in the next report we will.”

He suggested one of the reasons for the booze slump may have been that the number of multicultural immigrants in the city has risen.

“Adelaide is a very multicultural society – some cultures just don’t favour alcohol and others do,” he said.

“If we look at the City of Adelaide alone, I think out of our resident base it’s something approaching 25% or higher in terms of first generation (immigrants) and I think a fair proportion of that is Asian.

“Consumption habits in terms of alcohol are very different with Asian communities, often as they are with other communities.

“That may partially explain it (but) I’m postulating.”

By contrast, Adelaide’s food and entertainment sectors enjoyed a $75 million jump in revenues between 2009 and 2013.

Employment in the two sectors grew by 1.3 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

According to the report, Melbourne led gains in the food sector, with nearly $400 million in additional sales since 2009.

“Although Melbourne may lay claim to being the food capital of Australia, I think with some justification (Adelaide) can lay claim to being the food produce capital of Australia,” said Haese.

“Food accounts for something approaching 50 per cent of all retail sales in the state of South Australia in any given year.

“It is an incredible contributor.

“We’re seeing growth of the micro when it comes to alcohol – small licensed venues, craft breweries – (but) in food, we’re seeing growth in the larger outlets.”

Nationally, the overall sales revenue in the night-time economy (excluding GST) increased its from $90 billion in 2009 to $102 billion in 2013 – an increase of 13.4 per cent.

Casino operations were the biggest winners, surging from $185 million in revenue in 2009 to $875 million in 2013.

Next was night time sports and physical recreation services, which surged by 345 percent.

The brothel keeping and prostitution sector had the third-largest revenue gains, jumping from $150 million in 2009 to $220 million in 2013.

In Sydney, the sector grew by 210 per cent.

NLGDAAC is sponsored by the Australian Local Government Association. The report can be read here.

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