Can the Night Tube save London’s after-hours economy?

Sep 14, 2016

GDR Innovation Researcher Fraser Scarlett explores whether the opening of a 24-hour London Underground service and the intervention of a few clever brands can help rejuvenate nightlife in GDR’s home city… 

London’s new 24-hour tube service couldn’t have come at a better time. But can we rely on the Night Tube to rescue London’s faltering nightlife?

Since Fabric’s opening in 1999, it has been voted No. 1 club by DJ magazine twice and has always been a flagship for the capital’s internationally renowned clubbing culture. But due to its apparent “culture of drugs”, the club had its license revoked on 7th September.

free-the-nightOutrage, both online and offline, was omnipresent. As the #savefabric movement gathered pace online the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, reminded us that: “Over the past eight years, London has lost 50 percent of its nightclubs and 40 percent of its live music venues.”

However, the recent opening of 24-hour service on the London Underground promises to change things. London has followed Amsterdam and Berlin by opening a 24-hour service on the Central and Victoria lines on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Night Tube promises to increase the number of people enjoying themselves in the capital at night. With an alternative to the expensive London cab, clubbers can now rave the night away knowing that they won’t have to dig so far into their pockets to get home.

So what does this mean for brands? The Night Tube has also prompted Tesco and McDonald’s to welcome the growing number of nocturnal visitors.

Over the launch weekend Tesco handed out its Tesco Finest* freshly squeezed orange juice and bottled water at their “Hydration Stations” from 3am and 7am. Certain stores are also now open 24 hours to meet the new demand. Martin Smith, Tesco’s London Convenience Director, said: “At Tesco we’re always looking for new ways to serve London’s customers whenever it is most convenient to them.”mcdonalds-night-tube-map

McDonald’s also responded by tweeting a map of their 24-hour restaurants located near Central and Victoria tube stations.

All of this demonstrates the confidence provided by the 24-hour service. The New West End Company’s managing director of trading environment, Steven Medway, puts it like this: “With about 6,500 people tapping in at Oxford Circus on Friday night alone, and a 14% uplift in footfall on Saturday night on Oxford Street, the service looks set to contribute to a vibrant 24-hour economy for London’s West End.”

With the Jubilee line also expected to open on Friday 7th October and the Northern and Piccadilly lines expected to follow shortly after, there is hope that London can recover from these hard times and continue to be a city brands want to be a part of.

UPDATE: In response to the closing of Fabric and other venues around London, homeware brand Habitat announced the opening of The Light Club, an in-store party taking place at its Tottenham Court Road branch. Look out for it next month!

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