Sydney is steadily continuing to recover from the pandemic and lockdowns, with the City of Sydney’s economic analysis of the first quarter of 2023 showing the city is closer to pre-pandemic levels across several indicators.

The City of Sydney’s analysis has been pulled from a number of sources and shows Sydney’s economy is steadily improving, driven by an increases both in local spending and the number of visitors.

Key takeouts include:

  • Local spend has recovered to 98 per cent of pre-pandemic levels (after adjusting for inflation)
  • Friday is the highest spend day with an average of $28m each week (87 per cent of pre-pandemic levels)
  • Monthly local spend in central Sydney in March 2023 was $704m (up from $617m in March 2022)
  • Public transport use to central Sydney has grown strongly in the last year (rising to 84 per cent of pre-pandemic levels)
  • This financial year to date (July 2022-February 2023), we approved $3.1bn of building development
  • The city’s night-time economy (6pm-6am) has recovered to 97 per cent of the 2019 pre-pandemic level (after adjusting for inflation)
  • Sydney had 247,000 international visitor arrivals in February (up 16 per cent from February 2022)
  • International student arrivals to Australia have increased to 74 per cent of 2019 levels.
  • Sydney’s international student population continues to exceed the national average, increasing six per cent from November 2021 to November 2022.

Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore said: “Each quarter we’re pulling together a snapshot across a range of datasets relating to visitors, consumer spend, people movement, and the overall economic performance of our city.

We are constantly talking with stakeholders to understand what is happening on the ground for their business and community, and this will give us a strong evidence base of what changes are occurring in our area.

“In turn, it will help us better understand how people connect with the city, provide valuable insights to businesses and community, and guide our strategies.”

Weekday spend in central Sydney remains lower than 2019, however, weekend spend has been strong, particularly Saturday, which has grown 18 per cent on pre-Covid levels.

 Sydney’s night-time economy is increasing well with total night-time spend in March sitting at $355m. Total night-time spend represented almost a third of all local spend in a 24-hour period. 

Saturday night spend is up 15 per cent on pre-pandemic levels and Sunday nights are up 14 per cent.

“We’re very keen to share the results of each of our quarterly economic snapshots with everyone,” the Lord Mayor said.

 “I’m pleased so many government partners are eager to work with us on the analysis. Our aim is for this work to become a trusted source that will allow us, other stakeholders and government bodies, to make informed decisions about our city and its future.”

 The City of Sydney is proposing to spend $750m in the next financial year, with the Budget now on Exhibition. Funds will be spent on supporting local businesses, building capital works projects, maintaining community facilities and parks, producing precinct activations like the Sydney Streets program, and boosting visitor services to target international students and visitors.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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