Rise in foot traffic offers signs of hope for CBD
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Melbourne’s CBD is already showing signs of coming back to life after the city emerged from its sixth lockdown last week, with foot traffic in some dining spots hitting pre-pandemic levels.
However, traders will be hoping numbers continue to rise when indoor retail reopens on Friday evening, given that pedestrian activity in major shopping districts is still well below normal.
Lord mayor Sally Capp said the data showed the city’s dining precincts were the biggest winners.
“Melburnians filled every seat in town to celebrate the end of lockdown over a well-deserved meal or round of drinks,” she said.
“A huge thank-you goes out to all the Victorians who have been vaccinated so far – you deserve to celebrate. Let’s keep getting jabs into arms and hit that 80 per cent double-dose threshold, and beyond.”
The City of Melbourne’s pedestrian counter at Southbank logged 292 people at the riverside location from midnight to 1am last Friday, compared with the usual handful in recent weeks. This was just after lockdown restrictions were eased and the city’s curfew ended.
People line up to get into a pub in Melbourne last Friday to celebrate the end of lockdown.Credit:Luis Ascui
But it was also an almost 100 per cent increase from the average number of people there at the same time on Fridays in October 2019, before the pandemic.
The sensors also recorded a big rise in people at Melbourne Central at the same time. There were 349 people near the shopping centre compared with the four-week average of just 16 people. This is similar to 2019 numbers.
A quiet Bourke Street during Melbourne’s sixth lockdown.Credit:Jason South
Meanwhile, foot traffic in Lygon Street between 8pm and 9pm on Friday showed Melburnians were determined to enjoy their first full night of freedom.
There were 577 people in the dining spot compared with a four-week average of 44. This is a 46 per cent increase from pre-pandemic numbers at the same time.
In Chinatown, restaurateurs will be hoping pedestrian activity further increases, with it down 37 per cent on Saturday evening from average levels over the same time in 2019.
They will be pleased it was an almost 700 per cent increase compared with the average over the previous four weeks.
Traders will also want to see an uptick in foot traffic.
There were 63 per cent fewer people in the Flinders Street Station underpass between 8pm and 9pm on Saturday compared with the pre-pandemic average.
And there were 80 per cent fewer pedestrians in the Bourke Street Mall between 2pm and 3pm on Saturday than the average in 2019.
Melbourne Central had 40 per cent fewer visitors between 1pm and 2pm on Saturday than it did during the same period before the pandemic, but it was a 233 per cent increase compared with lockdown numbers.
Councillor Roshena Campbell, who leads the council’s city activation portfolio, said Melbourne’s hospitality sector were finally seeing a much-needed boost in visitors.
“We know hospitality experiences play a key role in getting people back into the city,” she said.
“This is a critical time for our city’s economic recovery. We look forward to city retailers welcoming patrons back and increased capacity for dining from Friday.”
The City of Melbourne is continuing to waive permit fees for outdoor dining, as it did last year.
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