Death of clubbing? Why that's bad news for the UK's night time economy

 
Kate Nicholls
Nightclub no-no? The economy needs clubbers (Source: Getty)

The UK’s late night sector, its bars, live music venues and nightclubs, is rightly recognised as one of the most vibrant and progressive in the world. The sector forms an integral part of the UK’s cultural zeitgeist and has provided a breeding ground for much of this country’s world-renowned musical talent.

Our nightclubs and venues are also crucial drivers of growth across local economies and substantial losses in the sector would have a devastating knock-on effect for both the hospitality sector and the wider UK economy.

Around £66bn in revenue is generated every year by the late night economy, employing 1.3m people and accounting for 10 per cent of GDP. The night-time economy makes up around 8 per cent of UK businesses and a third of town centre turnover is generated in the evenings. Late night bars, music venues and nightclubs support a myriad of other high street businesses and entrepreneurs and help increase footfall in town centres that have struggled against online retail.

Read more: Britain's night-time economy is valuable and needs protecting

Over half a billion visits are made to UK nightclubs each year including over 300m dedicated visits and nearly £18bn spend. Our late night music and entertainment sector attracts visitors from across the UK, Europe and beyond. The success of internationally-famous clubs such as the now-defunct Hacienda, to Ministry of Sound and Fabric has turned our cities into popular destinations for clubbers and provided town centres with a welcome fiscal boost.

The ALMR (Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers) has consistently argued that the loss of these landmark businesses would deal an irreparable blow to both the UK’s cultural and economic landscapes, and we have campaigned hard to promote the hard work and benefits of the sector.

Earlier this year, the ALMR launched its Late Night Manifesto to highlight to both national and local authorities the benefits of the sector. We are pushing for closer working relationships with local authorities to ensure that those communities reap the benefits of investment generated by bars and clubs and so clubbers can enjoy their nights out. The nightclubs that do remain are dynamic, innovative and worthy of our support.

Read more: This is the London 24-hour Night Tube Map

At present, nightclubs are under threat from local authorities with the power to penalise and close venues, planning constraints and costly levels of tax. Too frequently, the sector is seen as a burden with venues taking the blame for reports of anti-social behaviour, rather than a crucial part of the country’s hospitality offering.

The number of nightclubs in the UK has fallen by almost half in the past decade - from 3,144 a decade ago to 1,733 today. If losses continue at this rate, clearly there will be devastating consequences for the night-time economy. These consequences will also be felt more widely as we face the loss of the most iconic, dynamic and productive parts of our economy.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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