Given the stressful nature of work in cities and the fast-paced urban life, after-work hours have become an important time for people to shed some of the stress and meet their social and recreational needs. As summer temperatures rise, so does the night-time economy.
What constitutes the night-time economy is essentially urban people's consumption from 6:00 in the evening to 6:00 the next morning. Data show that post-normal working hours are the "prime time" for consumption in urban areas. For example, the sales of large shopping malls from 6 pm to 10 pm account for more than half of the whole day total.
On Taobao, the peak transaction time is between 9 pm and 10 pm, with night-time consumption accounting for more than 36 percent of the all-day total. Also, the peak visiting time on short video websites such as TikTok and Kwai is from 9 pm to 11 pm. And the orders for food and beverage takeaways between 10 pm and 1 am the next day have increased significantly.
Major cities in China and abroad have introduced many measures in recent years to promote the nighttime economy, with Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Chongqing issuing several policies and developing world-class consumption centers to promote the night-time economy. And cities such as Hangzhou, Nanjing, Hefei, Xi'an, Chengdu, Wuhan and Changsha have introduced various promotional activities to boost night-time consumption.
More than 40 foreign cities have issued policies related to the nighttime economy. In fact, many cities boast of a rich night life and use their thriving night-time economy to attract foreign tourists.
Now that the consumer market is firmly on the recovery path in China, the night-time economy can meet people's social and recreational needs, facilitate the development of the service sector, and increase domestic demand.
Thanks to consumption upgrading, the consumption of cultural, sports, entertainment and tourism services continues to increase. The night-time economy not only offers local residents increasing consumption options such as shopping, meeting places and entertainment venues, but also provides unique experiences like performances and events to meet the diverse needs of different consumer groups.
It is dominated by service industries such as catering, culture, sports and entertainment, which together will boost the overall development of the service industry in tandem with the growing pace of urbanization. As the COVID-19 pandemic situation improves in China, the night-time economy can help increase market supply, promote the integrated development of business, travel, culture, sports and other service industries.
The night-time economy conforms to the post-industrial urbanization trend, and enhances a city's charm while facilitating the flow of goods, capital and information, and the scope of the service sector.
Contributing 65.4 percent to China's economic growth in 2021, consumption remains the driving force of growth and internal circulation.
To ensure the sustainable development of the night-time economy in summer, governments and enterprises have to make joint efforts to optimize the consumption environment and use innovative means to increase consumption.
First, to meet the diversified consumption needs of local residents and foreign tourists, services such as catering, shopping, entertainment, outdoor sports and travel should be combined with night life.
And advanced information technologies such as big data, cloud computing, mobile internet, artificial intelligence, and new business models should be used to create innovative night-time scenarios to meet people's needs for high-quality life and boost the night-time economy.
Second, night-time economy brands should be developed by learning from the experiences of cities around the world, and promoting the integrated development of tourism, culture, sports, and exhibition and conference sectors.
Third, there is also a need to improve urban management, urban infrastructure and public services, environmental sanitation, social security and traffic management. Besides, the authorities could consider extending the opening hours of museums, libraries and concert halls to draw in more visitors for the development of the night-time economy.
And fourth, it is important that consumers exhibit civilized behavior, and the authorities promote a simple, moderate, green and low-carbon lifestyle in order to ensure the sustainable development of the night-time economy.
The author is a research fellow at the Institute of Distribution and Consumption, Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation affiliated with the Ministry of Commerce.