Oxford Street

Oxford Street village is home to an engaging and lively business precinct. The village is dominated by smaller enterprises, predominantly in retail, food and drink and creative industries.

Despite having some areas of purely residential streets and enclaves throughout the village, there are also pockets and strips dominated by businesses.

Food and drink businesses line Oxford Street and its surrounds, particularly in areas such as Darlinghurst, where there is an abundance of quirky bars, restaurants, cafés and takeaway shops.

Although retail businesses within the village, particularly along Oxford Street, have seen limited growth in recent years, initiatives by planners, councils, traffic agencies and key stakeholders have begun in order to reinvigorate the area and promote new activity.

The precinct’s underutilised spaces provide significant opportunities for growth in retail businesses and for new businesses to enter the market.

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Employing businesses by type and size

Table 2 displays data from the City of Sydney's Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 (FES) and shows the number of employing businesses within Oxford Street village, broken up by their city-based industry sector and size (number of employees). In 2012, there were a total of 1,306 employing businesses located within the village, employing a total of 17,400 workers. The number of employing businesses has increased by 16% between 2007 and 2012.

As shown in Table 2, the largest number of businesses within this village are in the food and drink city-based industry sector, which make up 20% of businesses. This is heavily influenced by the number of takeaway food shops, restaurants and cafés along Oxford Street. Other significant industries within this village include retail and personal services (17% of businesses) and creative industries (15% of businesses). 

Oxford Street village is dominated by smaller businesses (those with less than 20 employees). This is partly a result of the number of businesses in the retail and food and drink categories, which typically require lower staff numbers. Office-based industry categories, such as creative industries and professional services that are located in the village also tend to be of a boutique nature, with fewer employees than their counterparts in the city centre.

In the 5 year period between 2007 and 2012, the total number of businesses in the village increased by 15.6%, with the largest sectoral increase occurring in the food and drink sector.

Table 2 – Number of Employing Businesses by Size, 2012

Sector Very Small (1–4) Small (5–19) Medium (20–199) Large (200+) Total Total (%)


7 14 8 0 29 2.2%

Creative Industries

83 91 18 2 194 14.9%

Finance & Financial Services

7 11 5 0 23 1.8%

Food & Drink

130 126 9 0 265 20.3%


5 7 10 0 22 1.7%


31 20 8 5 64 4.9%

Higher Education & Research

13 35 30 0 78 6.0%


11 21 7 1 40 3.1%

Life Science (Bio-Tech)

5 2 0 0 7 0.5%


0 2 0 0 2 0.2%

Motor Vehicle

10 6 2 0 18 1.4%

Natural Resource-Based Industries

0 0 0 0 0 0.0%

Professional & Business Services

40 69 14 0 123 9.4%

Property Development & Operation

4 11 4 0 19 1.5%

Retail & Personal Services

160 55 3 0 218 16.7%

Social Capital

28 22 4 0 54 4.1%

Tourist, Cultural & Leisure

37 63 19 0 119 9.1%

Transport & Logistics

19 10 1 0 30 2.3%


0 1 0 0 1 0.1%


590 566 142 8 1,306 100.0%

Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

Food and drink

Despite having a high number of businesses in the food and drink sector, the restaurant/eating space use division occupies only a small portion of the total internal floor area within Oxford Street village. This is due to the large proportion of takeaway food shops and small cafés/restaurants that require smaller floor areas.

Table 3 summarises the amount of floor space dedicated to the restaurant/eating category, as determined by the FES. In 2012, the restaurant/eating division occupied 57,810 sqm of internal floor space, an increase of over 5,000 sqm from 2007. This increase in floor space was accompanied by an increase in the number of employees in this space use division of over 500.

Table 3 – Restaurant/Eating Floor Space and Employees

2007 2012

Internal Floor Space (sqm)

52,538 57,810

% of Total Floor Area

2.2% 2.4%


1,617 2,159

% of Total Employment

10.6% 12.4%
Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

Between 2007 and 2012, the number of restaurant establishments rose from 77 to 102, resulting in a 33.2% increase in the seating capacity of restaurants within Oxford Street village (see Table 4). Café/coffee lounge seating capacities also rose by a significant 31.2% over the period, with the number of establishments increasing from 67 to 84.

Table 4 – Restaurant/Eating Capacity Measures

2007 2012 % Change 2007–2012
Restaurant Seating 4,385 5,839 33.2%
Café/ Coffee Lounge Seating 1,842 2,417 31.2%
Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

As shown in Figure 5, the majority of the restaurant floor space is focused along Oxford Street. There are also dense areas of restaurant floor space along William Street, a major connection from the city centre through to Kings Cross and the eastern suburbs and also between Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street, an area that forms the retail and dining heart of Darlinghurst. There is also a significant concentration at the SCG and Allianz Stadium, and at the Entertainment Quarter, which services the entertainment facilities in this area.

Figure 5 – Restaurant Floor Space

Figure 5 – Restaurant Floorspace


Retail businesses within Oxford Street village, particularly along Oxford Street itself, have faced challenges in recent years. What was once the city’s prime fashion strip has been affected by road works, bus lanes restricting nearby parking and competition from new retail centres in the city centre and Bondi Junction. Consequently, the village has seen a slight decrease in the amount of floor space dedicated to retail. As shown in Table 5, the amount of shop/showroom floor space in the village decreased by around 6,000 sqm in the period 2007 to 2012.

As mentioned previously, despite the lack of retail growth in recent years the area is subject to various initiatives in order to reactivate the retail strip and encourage retail businesses back into the area. The underutilised space provides significant opportunities to retailers and start-up businesses. It is interesting to note that the observed reduction in shop/showroom floor space is similar in size to the increase in restaurant/eating floor space, suggesting that some retail space may have been repurposed as restaurant space, which is less vulnerable to external competition.

Table 5 – Shop/Showroom Floor Space and Employees

2007 2012
Internal Floor Space (sqm) 63,635 57,602
% of Total Floor Area 2.7% 2.4%
Employees 1,155 1,310
% of Total Employment 7.6% 7.5%
Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

Figure 6 shows that the shop/showroom floor space is concentrated along Oxford and William streets, as these are the main corridors through the village. There is also a cluster of shop/showroom floor space located between these 2 streets in the north-western quadrant of the village, which is situated in close proximity to the city centre. Further to the east, both sides of McLachlan Avenue also have a significant grouping of retail floor space. Again a significant concentration is also evident at the Entertainment Quarter, and at the SCG and Allianz Stadium. 

Figure 6 – Shop/Showroom Floor Space

Figure 6 – Shop/Showroom Floorspace


There are key entertainment and leisure sites within Oxford Street village which represent significance to not only the village and the City of Sydney local area, but also to the wider Sydney region. Some examples of significant entertainment/leisure sites within this village include Australian Museum, Palace Verona theatre, Victoria Barracks and Paddington Markets, which all highlight the diversity and culture of Oxford Street village.

The entertainment/leisure space use division saw the second largest increase in floor space within Oxford Street village between 2007 and 2012 (Table 5). This division saw an increase of approximately 15,000 sqm in the period, increasing the percentage of total floor area from 4.8% to 5.5%.

Table 6 – Entertainment/Leisure Floor Space and Employees

2007 2012
Internal Floor Space (sqm) 115,611 131,166
% of Total Floor Area 4.8% 5.5%
Employees 244 321
% of Total Employment 1.6% 1.8%
Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

As stated previously, the main focus of activity within this village is along Oxford Street, and this is the location of most of the entertainment/leisure floor space (as shown in Figure 7). There are also significant pockets of entertainment/leisure floor space along William Street, the most significant of which is Australian Museum located on the corner of William and College streets. There is also a very high concentration in the Moore Park entertainment precinct, which encompasses the SCG, Allianz Stadium, Fox Studios, the Entertainment Quarter and Hordern Pavillion.

Figure 7 – Entertainment/Leisure Floor Space

Figure 7 – Entertainment/Leisure Floorspace


The office space use division accounts for the second-largest amount of floor space within Oxford Street village behind residential. The village’s proximity to the city centre has supported a strong ‘off-prime’ office market, providing space suitable for enterprises in the very small to medium categories.

As displayed in Table 7, the amount of office floor space in Oxford Street village remained essentially unchanged between 2007 and 2012. Office space uses accounted for the largest number of workers within the village, with 11,865 workers working in office spaces in 2012.

Table 7 – Office Floor Space and Employment

2007 2012
Internal Floor Space (sqm) 348,532 348,409
% of Total Floor Area 14.6% 14.7%
Employees 10,853 11,865
% of Total Employment 71.2% 68.0%
Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

As shown in Figure 8, the majority of office floor space within Oxford Street village is concentrated in the northern half, in close proximity to the city centre. This is particularly apparent along Oxford and William streets which are also major bus corridors, but also in the areas between these two arterial roads. Again the Moore Park entertainment precinct has a significant amount of office space, this space serves the major entertainment facilities in the area as well as the significant entertainment and film industry uses within the Fox Studios precinct.

Figure 8 – Office Floor Space

Figure 8 – Office Floorspace


It should be noted that the industrial space use classification incorporates uses such as scientific laboratories, art/craft studios and film and video production studios. These uses are relevant to Oxford Street village given the presence of St Vincent’s Hospital, associated research labs, College of Fine Arts and Fox Studios.

As shown in Table 8, the industrial space use division saw the greatest reduction in space between 2007 and 2012, losing approximately 31,000 sqm and decreasing its share of the total floor area from 2.4% to 1.1%. This phenomenon can be attributed to the movement of industry to outer areas of Sydney, and to a lesser extent the conversion of industrial land to residential and other uses.

Table 8 – Industrial Floor Space and Employment

2007 2012
Internal Floor Space (sqm) 56,796 25,958
% of Total Floor Area 2.4% 1.1%
Employees 242 399
% of Total Employment 1.6% 2.3%
Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

As evident in Figure 9, only small pockets of industrial uses occur in the northern half of the village. The major areas of industrial floor space are located at Victoria Barracks, a dense pocket at College of Fine Arts, the Australian Museum site, St Vincent’s Private Hospital and National Art School. A cluster of industrial floor space is also evident around the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park. This is not industrial floor space in the traditional sense, but floor space that is closely linked with the operation of these facilities.

Figure 9 – Industrial Floor Space

Figure 9 – Industrial Floorspace

What does this mean for my business?

This section can assist both existing businesses and those considering locating in the village in identifying the presence of competing and/or complementary businesses.

For some businesses, the presence of complementary businesses can be an important factor in deciding location due to the benefits of ‘agglomeration economies’. For instance, restaurants and cafés tend to cluster together due to the advantages of being located in a food and beverage precinct which attracts a large number of visitors – Oxford Street and Victoria Street are good examples of this.

Conversely, other types of business may prefer to locate far away from competitive business. Examples here would include supermarkets and cinemas, businesses which benefit from a captive market. The current evolution of non-food retailers on Oxford street underlines this point as some retailers have chosen to leave the strip in response to new competition located nearby. This highlights the need for some retailers – particularly those of discretionary goods – to differentiate themselves from competitors. 


This information has been compiled from various sources. The publisher and contributors accept no responsibility for any injury, loss or damage arising from the use, error or omissions therein. While all care is taken to ensure a high degree of accuracy, users are invited to notify the City of Sydney of any discrepancies. No part of this information, including maps or data, may be reproduced without written permission.

Last updated: Tuesday, 16 June 2015