During 2020, the City of Melbourne implemented an Extended Outdoor Dining (EOD) program to support businesses to keep operating during restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the EOD program has been to expand the tradable area for hospitality businesses and to revitalise the inner city.

The City of Melbourne commissioned Urbis to undertake an evaluation of the EOD program to quantify the economic benefit and community sentiments toward the program. We found that the program was successful in helping to cope with indoor dining restrictions by creating an additional 18,000 outdoor seats for cafes, restaurants and bars. The economic assessment indicated a range of positive results for the broader economy and individual businesses, with 75% of participating businesses generated at least $1,642 pw of expenditure at their premises from their EODs . Businesses and general community were overwhelmingly positive about the program with 96% of people stating that they felt that the EOD program was a good addition to the city.

Through Urbis’ evaluation, the City of Melbourne can clearly demonstrate the positive economic impact its program of extending outdoor dining footprints had on the community.