COVID-19 sucks life out of Aussie CBDs

New analysis by Roy Morgan Research shows that people movements across all Australian capital cities are well down on pre-COVID levels, with Melbourne predictably experiencing the sharpest falls:

A special analysis of movement data in Australia’s Capital City CBDs shows movement levels are well below those seen earlier in the year in all six State capitals.

Movement in both the Perth and Adelaide CBDs is closest to the pre COVID-19 levels. Movement in late July has returned to an average of 71% of the levels earlier in the year during January and February.

The Queensland capital is ranked third with movement levels in the Brisbane CBD at 61% of the pre COVID-19 levels just ahead of the Hobart CBD at 59%.

The two laggards are Australia’s largest cities and most impacted by the second wave of COVID-19. Movement in the Sydney CBD has dropped to just under half of the pre COVID-19 levels at 48% while the Melbourne CBD, which entered Stage 3 lockdown in early July, was at only 27% in late July. This movement data was drawn before Melbourne entered the more restrictive Stage 4 lockdown last week.

Roy Morgan has partnered with leading technology innovator UberMedia to aggregate data from tens of thousands of mobile devices to assess the movements of Australians as we deal with the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interactive dashboard at the bottom tracks the movement data for those visiting the Capital City CBDs during 2020, excluding the CBD residents of each city. Movement data from several key locations around Australia is also available to view by using the interactive dashboard below.

Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan, says unlike the first wave of COVID-19 to hit Australia in March and April the second wave is concentrated in Melbourne with a large secondary impact on Sydney while the rest of Australia has largely been spared so far:

“The first wave of COVID-19 in March and April prompted a nationwide shutdown of movement across the whole country that succeeded in flattening the curve and eliminating the virus from large parts of the country.

“The success of the first lockdown means there has been no community transmission of COVID-19 in the States of South Australia or Western Australia for nearly four months since early April and not for more than two months in either Queensland or Tasmania.

“Given the success these States have had in eliminating the virus it is no surprise movement in the respective Capital City CBDs has returned closest to pre COVID-19 averages in both Adelaide and Perth at 71% and followed by Brisbane (61%) and Hobart (59%).

“In contrast the second wave of COVID-19 has hit Melbourne at a far higher rate than earlier in the year with over 10,000 new cases diagnosed in the last month and the city returning to lockdown on Thursday July 9.

“Three weeks into this second lockdown movement in Melbourne was at only 27% of average levels and is set to plunge further in August as the city has now entered an even more restrictive Stage 4 lockdown set to run until at least mid-September.

“Over the next few weeks, the disparity in movement around Australia is likely to increase as Victoria is effectively quarantined from the rest of the country as it fights to regain control of the latest outbreak of COVID-19″.

Pretty much as expected. Melbourne is a ghost town right now.

Leith van Onselen
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  1. Display NameMEMBER

    Snapping back right on cue. Whiplash imminent.

    Going to be a tough Christmas for some/many

  2. C.M.BurnsMEMBER

    I’m heading into our office in Sydney cbd tomorrow, for the first time in a couple of months. At the northish end so might take a stroll the entire length of George on tbd way home and report back.

    Expecting to see the fruits of SFM’s “we’re going into hibernation” strategy everywhere.

    • pfh007.comMEMBER

      It is dead as a dodo.
      I have made the trek a few times to catch up with people around Bridge and Australia square and it was very sleepy from King Street to the Quay.
      Haven’t been down to Bankers Boulevarde (Barangaroo) so take a stroll down there and report back please.

      • I was in there last week (Tuesday, early afternoon) for the first time in a few months.

        Reminded me of working between Christmas/New Years. There are some people floating around but pretty dead with most shops and cafes closed.

    • Tbh the Sydney city isn’t really much to look at. Most of the real tourist attractions and beatiful spots to see are at the coast, in the mountains, and surrounds. If you don’t need to go into the city for work there really isn’t that much there that’s worth it. I note near my place has now a lot of tourists, and our local villages have more people than ever since the lock-down (all Sydney siders ex job would rather come here) – cafe’s and businesses seem to be doing really well jam packed more so than before which worries me a little COVID wise.

      All the traffic in the city has gone to the nicer outer suburbs which had everything else but work.

    • paris69 paris69

      I was out to CBD a couple of weeks ago on my day off (Thursday). My impression was it’s as dead as Newcastle CBD.
      Went into a popular Korean restaurant near my previous work for lunch. I remember I’ve never made it to this place as it got packed every time I tried to go in but was empty.

      WFH is absolutely killing the whole CBD. How can cafes, pubs and restaurants in this area survive without selling morning coffees, afterwork drinks and Friday lunches? No they can’t.