Consumers queue for night snacks in Shanghai in June. (Photo: VCG)
Local governments across China aim to drive up consumption and ease downward economic pressure by encouraging later closing hours at shopping malls and restaurants, among other moves.
"China has been actively taking measures to stimulate the economy, such as promoting vehicle and home appliance consumption," Zhao Jingqiao, director of the Service Economy and Catering Industry Research Center under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
"Given the tough situation that China is facing from the trade war with the US and the nation's own economic transformation, boosting the night economy is another comprehensive stimulus method to expand domestic consumption and ease downward economic pressure," Zhao said.
Beijing recently took the lead to boost the night-time economy with 13 methods to foster a world-classic "night capital" consumption brand, including optimizing public transport services at night, lighting up the consumption scene at night, promoting 10 special late-night restaurants, and advocating the extension of business hours, according to a statement released by Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau on Friday.
"We have designed our first 24-hour store, which will be opened before the end of the month," Fang Xuhu, manager of the planning department of Huda Restaurant, a popular crayfish restaurant located in Beijing's Guijie gourmet street, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Fang noted the restaurant has already extended its closing time from 5am in the winter to 6:30 am since summer is a peak season for crayfish consumption. The restaurant opens at 10:30 am.
An employee of a shopping mall in Beijing's Wangfujing Street told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that the mall plans to extend its business hours soon.
Other cities have started to roll out similar measures based on each city's conditions. In May, Shanghai issued guidelines to promote its night-time economy by building up several nightlife areas to foster a "7 pm to 6 am" economy, according to a statement by the Special Commissioner's Office in Shanghai under the Commerce Ministry in May.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, Shanghai has nominated more than 10 "nightlife CEOs" who possess rich management experience in businesses operating at night, as a way to support the city's night economy coordination mechanism.
A Shanghai-based online-to-offline supermarket platform, jddj.com, said that its sales across the country during the night showed 65 percent year-on-year growth during its latest summer promotion, according to a statement the platform sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.
The statement also said that the growth rate of night-time sales in second- and third-tier cities has been much faster than in first-tier ones.
For example, Southwest China's Chongqing has seen its night-time sales increase by 78 percent this summer on a yearly basis.
Liu Renjun, owner of a chain restaurant in Yiyang, Central China's Hunan Province, told the Global Times that the shop has extended its closing time from 1 am to 2:30 am. The total revenue of his five restaurants reached 6 million yuan a month recently, up 13 to 14 percent year-on-year.
In addition to encouraging restaurants and shopping malls to extend their business hours, local governments have also issued measures to guide the formation of a night-time ecosystem.
Shanghai has launched its first batch of 24-hour cinemas to boost the economy with cultural consumption, Shanghai-based Jiefang Daily reported on Tuesday.
An employee of the Shanghai Museum told the Global Times on Tuesday that the organization launched two night-theme events recently to support the promotion of Shanghai's night-time economy.
"A total of 2,000 tickets were sold out within 15 minutes for each event," the employee said, adding that other such events are planned.
Zhao noted that stimulating the night economy is a very general policy that requires careful planning and overall arrangement.
"A good security environment is really important to guarantee smooth economic growth, especially during night hours," Zhao said.