Media releases

Strong return of office workers to Melbourne’s CBD

5 March 2023

More city workers are returning to their Melbourne offices more often, with new data showing a significant increase in workplace attendance over the past 12 months.

An independent survey commissioned by the City of Melbourne found 88 per cent of respondents attended their workplace at least once in the previous week in December – compared to 55 per cent in January 2022.

Commuter levels are now at 63 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark, which shows confidence is building as more office workers embrace the city’s new rhythm.

Pedestrian activity during office hours has bounced back strongly, reaching 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels at lunchtime and 77 per cent across afternoons in January.

In February, activity near Town Hall was on par with pre-pandemic levels, and 41 per cent higher than the same time last year.

Weekday spending during office hours is also back at pre-pandemic levels – even after adjusting for inflation.

The strong return of office workers, international students and tourists is welcome news for city businesses, as Melbourne remains on track to become Australia’s best performing retail destination.

At Tuesday’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting, councillors will consider a range of measures to entice even more city workers as part of the Economic Development Strategy, including:

  • Weekday events and experiences that can only be found in the city
  • Networking opportunities and events to support the innovation and start-up sectors
  • Stronger international engagement to support knowledge sharing and investment
  • Partnerships with major city-based companies to share curated city content with employees.

Quotes attributable to Lord Mayor Sally Capp

“More office workers and visitors are returning to the city more often, a huge confidence boost for our traders.”

“Data shows spending on weekdays is at pre-pandemic levels, reaching $30 million in December.”

“Visitors to the city spent on average nearly $200, primarily across the events and hospitality sectors – the highest since surveying began in July 2021.”

“We want Melbourne to be world-renowned as a vibrant place for business and innovation, a place where people want to work, invest and establish their business.”

“We’re setting a new pace to entice even more investors, workers, students and visitors into the CBD, making the most of the opportunities to collaborate and experience all that Melbourne has to offer.”

Quotes attributable to City Activation deputy portfolio lead Councillor Jamal Hakim

“The city continues to be the central meeting place for city workers – a one-stop-shop to collaborate and innovate, with everything at their doorstep.”

“Prior to the pandemic, our office-based sectors supported half of the municipality’s jobs and generated 53 per cent of the city’s Gross Local Product.”

“We will continue to invest in events and support our start-up and innovation sectors – so that we can maintain this brilliant momentum.”

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