Published: June 22, 2022

In the last year and for just about the first time, Melbourne contracted. A recent study by KPMG found that in the last 12 months, Melbourne has experienced a population decline of 65,000 persons and a significant portion of the decline (13,700 persons) is from the city centre. Although some of the population decline can be attributed to those who can work from home and made a ‘tree change’ to regional areas, many who moved out of the inner city are more likely to be international students or skilled workers who went back home during the pandemic.

What does this mean for Melbourne’s CBD?

With a smaller population, more people working from home, and shops, cafes and restaurants having already taken a hit, the previously bustling and vibrant city centre is much more subdued. In a recent article for the Age, Jon Faine has suggested it is in danger of becoming a ‘doughnut city’, a place where far less is going on than we’re used to. Even more worrying, a YourGround study from last year found that large numbers of young women and gender diverse people feel unsafe moving around inner Melbourne. This combination of pressures clearly has the hallmarks of a tough immediate future for the CBD.

A strategy to revive the CBD has been in place since 2020 and Lord Mayor Sally Capp is hopeful that a range of proposed events that bring people to the city will have a positive knock-on effect on city businesses. To accompany these events, strong government policies are required to promote a return of the majority of office workers to the city coupled with more incentives for shoppers to be reminded that Melbourne is a great place to visit and shop.

COVID-19’s impact on population growth: a regional renaissance as Melbourne and Sydney decline - KPMG Newsroom

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