London at Night, a report by GLA Opinion Research and Statistics, was commissioned by the Greater London Authority to provide independent advice to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on the future of the capital’s night-time economy.
A summary of the report, which revealed that 1.6m people – a third of everyone working in London – do so at night, stated:"The city is buzzing with social, cultural and economic activity. London is a leading global city. Visitors come from around the world to experience the culture on offer in London. Yet we can still do more to make London at night an even better place for people to work, rest or play."
Mayor Khan said: “There’s no doubt that the night-time economy is a key part of the success of our capital but this world-leading research shows the hugely significant role it plays in the lives of Londoners and visitors.
“We live in the greatest city in the world but as jobs and the demand for services at night grows, we have to make sure London is a city that works for all Londoners at all hours.
“We’re working hard to create a life at night that meets the needs of everyone, but we need employers to step up and ensure the welfare of their employees by paying them the ‘London Living Wage’.
“Every Londoner is entitled to a to a decent standard of living – no matter what time of day or night they work.”
Falling number of venues
The study of the city between 6pm and 6am found that London welcomed 32m overnight visitors in 2016, with 46% choosing to drink in pubs.
However, despite 65% of Londoners being regularly active at night – whether running errands or socialising – more than a third of the capital’s population find it too expensive to go out in the night-time economy.
Moreover, the report found that the number of pubs in London fell from 4,835 in 2001 to 3,530 in 2017, with the number of clubs declining from 880 to 570 over the same period.
The number of live music venues has also fell from 144 to 94 between 2007 and 2016.
Declining alcohol consumption
The report also revealed a long-term national trend towards less frequent drinking, with the decline in alcohol consumption pertinent to London.
Among all adults in England, the proportion who did not consume alcohol in the past week has increased from 33% in 1998 to 42% in 2016.
For 16 to 24-year-olds, the increase has been from around 35% to around 54%, with more than a quarter (27%) of Londoners in 2017 stating that they did not consume alcohol in the previous week – compared to 20% for the rest of Britain.
According to the report, 20% of 18 to 24-year-olds, 14% of 25 to 49-year-olds and 10% of 50 to 64-year-olds think too many venues revolve around alcohol, with 17% of BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) Londoners thinking the same.
Moreover, alcohol-related offences in the capital also declined by 51% between 2010-11 and 2017-18, and now make up just 4.3% of all crime at night.
Fabric of London’s identity
John Timothy, chief executive of trade body The Portman Group commented: “The mayor is right to identify and focus on the social and economic importance of London’s night-time economy. This report highlights just how significant it has become to the fabric of London’s identity. And it’s encouraging to see that it’s possible to deliver a thriving and prosperous night life while at the same time reducing alcohol misuse and alcohol-related harm.
“This is something we should celebrate and learn from.
“Yet with so many Londoners employed at night, it’s important that they are given the protection they need to go about their jobs without the fear of harm.
“Employees in nightclubs and any other licensed premises should be able to enforce rules around age restriction, for example, without threats and violence and more could be done to toughen up the law around this.
“This report also highlights the difficulty in getting data to fully evaluate the impact of the night-time economy.
“It’s vital that we are able to measure success and develop evidence-based best practice that can be shared with towns and cities up and down the UK.
“Getting the right ingredients for a successful, vibrant and safe night-time economy will play a key role in helping to boost our beleaguered high streets and strengthen our communities.”
‘World-class’ night sector
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The mayor is determined to promote London as a world-class 24-hour city, and UKHospitality is keen to support his efforts.
“We understand the importance of a vibrant and flourishing late-night sector and the positive, knock-on effect it has on the wider hospitality industry.
“It is vital that policy-makers have clear and reliable information with which to make evidence-based decisions.
“This report will provide the Mayor’s Office and the Night Time Commission with the insight needed to act to promote London’s night life.
“I am very proud to be involved as chair of the Night Time Commission, and UKHospitality will be working hard to support the fantastic late-night hospitality businesses in London.”
The executive report can be found here.