Brisbane’s economic recovery is in full swing with residents not only spending, but also returning to the CBD following the brutal hit the global coronavirus brought to our city in 2020.Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said it was promising for residents and local businesses alike to see foot traffic returning and retail expenditure on the rise, with a particularly strong increase over the Christmas period.
“Today, Council’s City Planning and Economic Development have been given an update on Brisbane’s recovery, and it’s extremely encouraging,” Cr Schrinner said.
“The Queen Street Mall today is a very different picture than it was in 2020. In April 2020 foot traffic plummeted to just 20 per cent of pre-COVID levels, but now we see more and more shoppers, workers and visitors returning to the CBD.
“Record numbers flocked to the CBD in December, as foot traffic on the Queen Street Mall peaked at about 80 per cent of pre-COVID levels, exceeding the long run average in 2020 for the first time since the city went into lockdown earlier that year.“Currently, even after the State Government enforced three day lock down and school returning, we are hitting 56 per cent of pre-coronavirus pedestrian traffic in the city.
“I’m incredibly proud to say Brisbane is bouncing back from the challenging times and takes leaps and bounds everyday towards returning to normality.“In Brisbane, spending with a bank card was also up six per cent in 2020 compared to 2019 with retail spend hitting more than $23 billion, which is an increase of about $1.4 billion.“The biggest spenders were in our outer suburbs, which reflects the introduction of State Government restrictions and more people working from home.
“Virginia recorded the largest increase in electronic retail spend in 2020, with an increase of $122 million, followed by Belmont, Milton, Everton Park, Eagle Farm, Oxley, Hamilton, Salisbury, Manly and Newstead.
“Data shows that in December 2020 electronic retail spending in the CBD was on par with 2019 levels for the first time, which is fantastic news for our local businesses, and I hope this trend continues.”
Dominique Lamb from the National Retail Association said retailers had a very strong end to a difficult year, with record participation in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday events in November and continued strong growth in December.
“We know that the lock-downs and travel restrictions affected consumer confidence throughout last year, but as the economy opens up again, we are seeing people more willing to spend on luxury items, dining out and short breaks close to home.
“Add to this the recent back-to-school spending, and it has been a very promising start to the year. We are confident that this trend will continue into 2021.”
Economic Development Chair Krista Adams said the new data snapshot also showed job numbers were tracking well to recover to pre-coronavirus levels in March 2022.
“More than 45,000 Brisbane businesses are drawing JobKeeper, with a 4 percent decrease in the number of Brisbane businesses applying for JobKeeper in September 2020, compared to peak numbers in July 2020,” Cr Adams said.
“It’s so important for Brisbane residents to shop and explore locally to inject much-needed cash into our economy and support the heath of the city’s businesses, big or small, so we can continue on this positive upwards trend to get our city back into tip-top shape.
“Council will continue to monitor this data to help shape our response to coronavirus, led by our Economic Recovery Taskforce, so we can continue to identify and deliver initiatives to support our economy.”
Cr Schrinner said while there were plenty of positives to celebrate from Council’s latest economic data, unfortunately we weren’t out of the woods yet.
“We’re committed to supporting and rebuilding our community in every way possible. Over the next four years we are investing in long-term strategies and projects for sustainable growth across the city,” he said.
“We’re investing $840 million into city-changing projects such as Brisbane Metro, Green Bridges and Victoria Park, which includes $21.7 million on projects across all Council wards to enhance our local communities.
“We’ve also committed $7.9 million in business relief packages and allocated $3 million in direct assistance to community groups. Currently, Council’s Economic Recovery Taskforce has 41 initiatives happening now and 17 in progress, with 25 initiatives complete.
“Since 1 March 2020 to end of December, there have been more than 14,600 businesses and organisations that have received $18.2 million in relief from fees, rent and charges.
“Brisbane is a resilient city, and I am proud to see Brisbane continuing to band together in every way to get the city back on its feet.”