When IS the Night Time?

Seems like a daft question, but the definition of ‘Night Time’ in a city centre is all over the place. Specifically, this refers to the Night Time Economy (NTE) which businesses and place managers use to measure performance in the evening.

We need a consistent definition to compare like for like, across suppliers and organisations. Here are a few choice notes:

The ATCM Purple Flag scheme defines NTE as between 1700 and 0600.

Retail intelligence company Springboard uses 1800 to 0400.

A recent report from the Greater London Authority describes it as 1800 to 0600.

1700 was initially a little close to working hours for my comfort, but it forms part of the Purple Flag which is a well-known and widely used reference. It seems reasonable to imagine people transitioning from the workplace to night-time destinations (after-office drinks!). Indeed, workers are important contributors to the local economy so very much on town centres’ radars.

The distinction between 0400 and 0600 is likely negligible. It looks like only service and transport workers are typically active this early, and with long licensing hours I suppose there’s little to be lost from measuring all the way to 6am.

It also looks to me, from reading some towns’ NTE strategies, that the emphasis is on early evening. Given that nearly all of these are based on the Purple Flag this looks like a reasonable de facto standard definition.

Finally, the data also points to a broader definition. I have a couple of counters in areas specifically designated as NTE strongholds (i.e. streets with pubs and clubs). Taking Fridays as an example, there is a small rise between 1700 and 1800, peaking at 2300-0000, before falling by 0400. Other areas tend to mix NTE and commuters, so more difficult to see.