Retail in Sydney

  • Estimated value added = $3 billion
  • Share of value added = 2%
  • Average growth rate from 2012 = 2.8% p.a.

Strengthening local economies

Sydney is Australia's premier retail destination, and Sydney's retail experience in the city centre is a key attribute of our global city staus. The retail sector is also the foundation of our village main streets that attracts many visitors to the City of Sydney.

It represents more than 7,800 businesses from approximately 21,500 within the City and it is a major employer that makes an important contribution to the local economy.

In 2012, retail-related businesses made up 36% of all businesses in the local area employing 66,169 workers, representing 15.14% of the City's workforce – compared to the national average of 10.7%.

It is a diverse industry that ranges from department stores and major shopping complexes through to regular market stall holders and pop-up stores around the City.

Businesses in the retail sector may be defined according to the market segment they target from high-end, mid-range, niche and tourist retail to hospitality businesses and retailers meeting the day-to-day needs of residents, workers and visitors to the City.

Helping businesses work together

The Sydney Business Chamber approached the City in 2010 – on behalf of a working group of key Sydney retailers – to take a leadership role by forming a Retail Advisory Panel.

The panel's aim is to bring together the retail industry, the state government and the City, to work on issues of common interest, provide strategic advice, identify and create opportunities for retailers to integrate better with Destination NSW and Business Events Sydney.

The City's role with the retail sector is to focus on enhancing the experience of shoppers through investing in high quality public places and infrastructure.

Our aim is to remove barriers for business, share information and to help businesses to work together, such as the snapshots of our programs in the next column.

We also deliver programs and services to build skills, resilience and expertise so that small business operators are better equipped to remain commercially viable and sustainable.

The challenges facing the sector affect the traditional 'bricks and mortar' retailers, large and small, and point to the need for strategies and action plans to enhance their competitiveness in an era of ever-increasing competition.

Going forward

Our Retail Action Plan has recently been developed to support local businesses and encourage new jobs in the sector.

The action plan outlines how the City will work with industry and government partners over the next 10 years to help the sector develop and grow.

Following significant public exhibition, the plan was adopted by Council in December 2013 alongside the Economic Development Strategy and the Tourism Action Plan.

Program snapshots

Sydney is Fashion

Our umbrella marketing campaign 'Sydney is Fashion' started in 2012 and will run for 3 years until 2014/15 bringing together these major fashion events that are sponsored by the City:

  • Vogue Fashion's Night Out
  • Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival.

The campaign promotes key events in the city centre and extends into our villages with additional support to develop the 'Newtown is Fashion', 'Paddington is Fashion' and 'Surry Hills is Fashion' campaigns.

Vogue's Fashion Night Out started in 2010, which is part of a global retail event that in Sydney is staged across Pitt Street Mall, Martin Place and other public spaces.

In 2012, the event resulted in more than 170,000 people visiting the City that night with 94% visiting a participating store and more than half making purchases that had an average spend close to $400.

More than 600 retailers participated including David Jones, Zara, Myer, Sportsgirl, Wanted and Tiffany & Co.

Sydney: a Christmas destination

The Retail Advisory Panel recommended the focus for 2013 be around Christmas-related events and to produce a 3-year vision and strategy to develop Sydney as a destination for Christmas.

The City is working with the business community to generate ideas and investment around a series of new events and installations to increase retail, and food and beverage spend in the city centre and to create further opportunities for community celebration.

Our coordinated approach will increase the funds and resources needed to deliver a world-class Christmas program with the aim of making Sydney one of the top international destinations at Christmas.


City of Sydney02 9265 9333


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Last updated: Tuesday, 20 October 2015