China: Nighttime activities in Shanghai to boost economy

Chen Yuyu for China Daily
Shanghai residents tour the Yuyuan Garden in the evening.

While making big strides to build an international consumption center, Shanghai is exploring nighttime businesses in multiple dimensions that cover shopping, dining, tourism, entertainment, live shows, reading events and exercise — a sleepless city full of vitality.

“The prosperity of its nightlife economy is regarded as an important benchmark in a city’s openness and vitality. It is said that if one wants to experience the uniqueness of a city, the most direct answer should be its nightlife economy,” said Liu Min, deputy director of the Shanghai municipal commission of commerce.

According to Liu, the city of Shanghai has been ready with nighttime facilities and resources, complete nightlife services, and a broad nighttime consumption market outlook.

Currently, the city has more than 6,000 convenience stores, over 13,000 restaurants in operation after midnight and 506 metro stations offering service beyond 10 p.m., according to Liu.

The city has also created three pedestrian streets, particularly for nighttime activities, 15 landmark areas for entertainment in the evenings, 10 waterfront nightlife experience zones and 30 waterfront nightlife venues, Liu added.

In Huangpu district, adjacent to the city’s well-known Bund, the Bund Finance Center (BFC) developed its weekend market into a nightlife living room by offering a variety of nighttime consumption scenes. More than 40 brands and merchants are showcasing their benchmark projects of various themes, products and businesses.

The varied offerings not only attract gourmets with bars and Michelin restaurants but also provide culture lovers with art museums and book stores, as well as venues designed particularly for entertainment, sports and innovative lifestyles, according to Zhang Ting, vice-general manager of the marketing division with the Bund Finance Center.

“We are trying to create the mixed experience of a modern bazaar, socializing, arts and more that take place at night,” Zhang said.

Shanghai was rated the top in the comprehensive nighttime economy index among all Chinese cities, a survey conducted by Yicai Media Group showed earlier in September, followed by Shenzhen of Guangdong Province, Beijing and Chengdu of Sichuan Province.

The index was made based on six major dimensions, namely the activities of nighttime traveling and late movies, along with conveniences such as night buses and lighting, and entertainment like the number of bars and emerging performance spaces such as live houses and playhouses.

The index values a city’s nighttime economy using the criteria of venues, content and population groups, as well as support facilities, according to Yang Yudong, editor-in-chief of Shanghai Yicai Media Group.

There are more than 400 shopping malls, about 80,000 restaurants and over 4,000 entertainment venues available for nighttime activities across the city. Around 3.38 million people in Shanghai traveled at nighttime in 2021, far more than any other first-tier city in China, Yang said.

“For tourists visiting Shanghai, their journey will be incomplete if they have not enjoyed its nightlife,” said Liu.

In Liu’s view, the nighttime economy is an important stage for showcasing a city’s history, innovation and progress, a vital part of the city’s high-quality development, as well as exhibiting proof of the city’s wisdom in urban governance.