Extended trading hours set to revitalise CBD retail sector

Extended trading hours set to revitalise CBD retail sector

Twilight trading could soon become the new norm in the CBD, with the City of Melbourne officially supporting a push to extend opening hours after 5pm. 

A proposal presented to the council’s Future Melbourne Committee on March 5 has revealed after work hours to be the most untapped time for retail sales, according to research conducted by the Australian Retailers’ Association (ARA).

Data highlighted a change in consumer spending patterns, including a 60 per cent increase to night-time entertainment expenditure. It also focused on foot traffic data, revealing that there are higher numbers of people in the city between 5pm and 7pm. Morning periods are meanwhile experiencing lower visitor levels.

The ARA report concluded that there was “significant unmet consumer demand during twilight hours, where there are more consumers walking through the city than retailers open for business”.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp pointed out that it was in the best interest of businesses to take the new data on board. 

“We’re encouraging city retailers to take full advantage of this change in consumer behaviour – shifting their opening hours to reflect when city visitors want to shop,” Cr Capp said.

This encouragement of twilight trading hours is expected to be particularly beneficial for small retail businesses, who are open for shorter periods than their larger counterparts.

The push is supported by many traders, with Melbourne Central’s centre manager[1]  Denis Ryan endorsing a “collaborative approach” to twilight trading, which “supports the local business community” and contributes to a “thriving retail precinct” with the city.


“Our retailers play a critical role in activating a core retail offering at times that are most convenient for shoppers, residents, office workers, students and tourists,” Mr Ryan said.


The major shopping precinct introduced extended trading hours more than 10 years ago and said that this has been essential in providing the best possible customer experience.

While the changes to trading hours are expected to be gradually implemented, the Lord Mayor emphasised the council’s commitment to keeping retailers informed.

“We’ll continue to support businesses with the latest data to embrace the city’s new rhythm, boost the local economy and improve the visitor experience.”

Twilight Trade is supported by the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund – a $200 million partnership between the state government and the City of Melbourne.

A report will come back to councillors via a briefing paper with a final report from the ARA to highlight areas of opportunity and next steps to support Melbourne’s retail sector.

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