The Economic Value of SF Nightlife

San Francisco’s nightlife and entertainment sector – which includes restaurants, bars, nightclubs, live music venues, and other performance spaces – is an integral part of the City’s fabric. Nightlife and entertainment businesses attract residents and visitors to our diverse neighborhoods and provide social spaces that are critical to the development of our unique and vibrant cultural life.

Nightlife isn’t just a cultural benefit. It’s also a major economic driver within the City. San Francisco nightlife’s economic value was first analyzed in a 2012 economic impact study conducted by the Office of the Controller.

According to that study:

  • In 2010, the nightlife sector in San Francisco was comprised of over 3,100 businesses, employing nearly 48,000 people.
  • Eighty million customers spent roughly $4 billion in connection with nightlife establishments in 2010. Roughly 77% of that annual spending was in restaurants, with 8.6% in live theater and performing arts, 5.7% in bars, and 5.2% in live music venues and nightclubs.
  • Slightly over half of local nightlife spending in 2010, an estimated $2.2 billion, was done by out-of-town visitors. Individuals from out-of-town comprised 57% of the nightlife business patrons on an average night. Residents of other Bay Area counties accounted for 36% of nightlife visitors daily, and 94% of Bay Area residents visited the City at night to patronize a nightlife business.
  • In 2010, the nightlife sector spent approximately $1.6 billion in local supplies and services, including $670 million on local food manufacturers and wholesalers, $580 million on local beverage distributors, $110 million on musicians and other performers, and $260 million on other local service providers.
  • The nightlife sector also paid roughly $55 million in payroll and sales taxes to the City that year.

A 2016 economic impact update by the Controller’s Office found significant growth in nightlife between 2010 and 2105, underscoring the sector’s continued significance in San Francisco’s economy.

The 2016 update found that:

  • By 2015, the nightlife industries employed 60,014 people in San Francisco, adding over 12,000 additional jobs since 2010 (a 25% increase). The number of nightlife establishments rose by 415 between 2010 and 2015, to a total of over 3,500 (a 13% increase).
  • Overall, nightlife industry revenues in 2015 were $6.0 billion, up 43% from the $4.2 billion reported for 2010 in the Controller’s previous report.
  • The nightlife sector paid approximately $80 million in local taxes in 2015, including $60 million (75%) in sales tax and $20 million (25%) in payroll and gross receipts taxes.

You can download the 2016 update report and the original 2012 economic impact study and read both below.