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Australian CBD retail vacancies rise as customers move online

Retail vacancies across Australia’s major CBDs has hit 12.9 per cent due to the fallout of the ongoing pandemic, and a move from consumers toward online shopping, according to CBRE.

The property firm’s CBD Retail Vacancy Report found that while each city reacted with differing severity, all were impacted, and that most impacted were fashion retailers. Shopping arcades saw larger vacancy rates when compared to strip locations.

“A range of CBRE retailers, mainly those in the clothing and soft goods industries, have closed their bricks-and-mortar stores and moved to a more online-centered platform in response to lower CBD foot traffic,” said CBRE research analyst Gus McConnell.

Sydney CBD saw a vacancy rate of 8.3 per cent, with 32 clothing and soft goods stores exiting the area over the last 24 months.

Melbourne, however, was hardest hit due to its more frequent lockdowns: retail vacancy hit 12.8 per cent, with the largest spike in vacancies located near Melbourne’s Universities – hit hard by the lack of international students.

Brisbane’s vacancy rate sat at 12.7 per cent, though the report noted this is fairly stable to prior periods, while Perth’s vacancy rate hit 26.7 per cent: with some shopping arcades seeing vacancy rates of over 50 per cent.

Adelaide hit 13.3 per cent, though was cushioned somewhat by the overall lower population of fashion retailers in its CBD when compared to other markets.

CBRE’s local head of retail leasing Leif Olson said, however, that the growth in vacancies had allowed opportunistic retailers to pick up new locations, which could put them in a better position once ‘normal’ trade resumes.

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