The night tube and the nighttime economy

The night tube

Night owls rejoice, the UK’s after-dark economy is booming with the launch of the night tube today – though workers have been cautioned about its impact on health

After 18 months of “tortuous” negotiation, a 24-hour Tube service will finally begin chugging through London from 19 August. Due to run initially on two lines (Central and Victoria), the after-midnight Underground will, it’s claimed, bolster the British economy by £360m. The UK’s night-time economy is already estimated at £70bn a year, employing some 1.3 million people and accounting for four per cent of economic output. Here are some sectors cashing in on dusk-till-dawn trading…

A man working at night, part of the night time economy like the night tubeShifting habits

Over three million Britons regularly work night shifts, 200,000 more than in 2007. The most common industries are transport and logistics (52 per cent) and entertainment, leisure and hospitality (36 per cent). Some studies have claimed, though, that workers disrupting their waking hours this way are potentially doing serious damage to their health.

A crowd dancing in a club, part of the nighttime economy like the night tubeNorthern nights

Of the 1.5 billion daily leisure visits to the UK last year, 300 million centred on a night out. It’s Britain’s regional cities that prosper most from this crepuscular carousing. Around £216m a year is spent by visitors enjoying Liverpool’s night-time economy while Newcastle’s late opening hours boosted city coffers by £53m in just six months. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that the night economy provides town centres and cities with as much as 10-16 per cent of employment.

Tesco 24 hours, part of the night economy like the night tubeStalled growth

Tesco began operating its 24-hour stores 20 years ago, but earlier this year announced it would halt overnight trading at a quarter of them, largely thanks to internet shopping. One after-dark shopping sector still thrives, though: Britain’s 26 wholesale markets, with combined revenues of £4.1bn a year. The latest figures for London’s markets show a turnover of £415m for fruit and vegetable emporium New Covent Garden, £300m for Smithfield meat market and £230m for Billingsgate fish market.

PureGym, open 24 hours and part of the nighttime economy like the night tubeThe 24-hour generation?

The nocturnal economy is also a disproportionate employer of young people. It created some seven per cent of all new jobs in 2013, of which around 80 per cent were taken by the young. It isn’t just bars that are propelling this boom: the turnover for 24-hour PureGyms surged to £125m in May, thanks to a 50 per cent jump in membership. So not all night working is bad for your health.

More info on the night tube

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About author

Christian Koch

Christian Koch

Alongside his work for Director, Christian has written features for the Evening Standard, The Guardian, Sunday Times Style, The Independent, Q, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, ShortList and Glamour in an eclectic career which has seen him interview everybody from Mariah Carey to Michael Douglas through to Richard Branson with newspaper assignments including reporting on the Japanese tsunami and living with an Italian cult.

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