The value of the night-time economy in Brighton and Hove has grown steadily despite the recession.

Even with consumer spending slipping as a result of the downturn, the total turnover of “after dark” businesses such as bars, nightclubs and restaurants rose by 9%, according to a joint study by specialist consultancies Make Associates and TBR Limited.

The value of the sector was £302 million in 2006 and £329 million in 2009, bringing it almost in line with the £400 million that tourism generates for the city each year.

While this success was welcomed, Brighton and Hove is only ranked 41st in the UK in terms of total turnover generated by the night-time economy.

This has led to calls for the city to try to become more “familyfriendly”

to generate even more revenue.

The study was based on data from 2.5 million business around the UK.

According to the report there has been a 6% decline in firms classified as being “drink-led” in Brighton and Hove during the three-year period, though much of this slack was taken up by late-night food outlets.

Chris Bloomfield, co-owner of Indigo Leisure, which runs eight city pubs, said the advent of extended hours had helped the trade.

But he warned: “If there has been an increase in turnover there has certainly also been an increase in costs.”

Mr Bloomfield said the rise in cost associated with red tape, utilities and alcohol tax have “soared” and that “profit margins are down as a result”.

Despite the general health of the sector, city nightclubs such as the Pressure Point, Ocean Rooms and Engine Rooms have all closed in recent years. Another problem for the nighttime economy is competition from supermarkets, wich often sell alcohol at a loss to tempt customers.

Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced that he may tackle this by introducing a minimum price for alcohol.

Although he praised the move, Mr Bloomfield warned of unintended consequences, adding: “If you give government or local authority control over direct pricing then how far will they take it?”

Tony Mernagh, executive director of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, was pleased with the study’s findings.

But he added: “I do think there is scope for the economy to be even more successful. This is because there is a perception that the city is not safe at night, which puts people off coming here in the early evening to go to the cinema or a restaurant.

“This is not true as violent crime has been declining year on year. But the perception needs to be changed.”

A spokesman for the city council said it “wouldn’t have a fierce argument” with what Mr Mernagh said, adding: “We believe the city has the capacity to develop a more family-friendly scene alongside the more clubby nightlife we’re famous for.

“That’s what the night-time White Night festival in October is about. Its call for people to ‘do something different in the night’ is aimed at showing there’s more to the city than drinking and clubbing.

“In recent years there have been lots of examples of things going that way – Burning the Clocks, the Children’s Festival, the seafront paddling pool and playground, the Yellowave beach sports centre, the new Peter Pan’s playground and improvements at Hove Lagoon, to name a few.

“We should always be looking to broaden the city’s customer base – and we are.”