Nearly 1 in 10 stores across WA shopping centres is vacant: Y Research

Staff reporterAugust 26, 20200 min read

Ahead of the full impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, nearly 1 in 10 stores across WA’s 78 largest supermarket based shopping centres is currently vacant, according to a new study by independent commercial property research and information firm, Y Research.

The study physically reviewed the occupancy of metropolitan Perth’s 78 largest supermarket based centres from Butler in the north, Mundaring in the east and Halls Head in the south across June 2020, after relaxation of COVID 19 restrictions.

As of June 2020, the vacancy rate across these centres was 9.4%.

The vacancy rate for WA’s largest centres, Major Regionals which includes centres such as Lakeside Joondalup, Westfield Booragoon and the Galleria, was 7.4%, more than three times higher than their historical average of 1 to 2%. Despite anecdotal evidence that consumers are shopping at local neighbourhood centres, these centres recorded the highest vacancy rate of 13.9%, followed by sub regional centres with 11.5%.

There is a wide disparity across centres reflecting economic conditions across Perth’s suburbs. Claremont Quarter recorded the lowest vacancy rate - 1.7%. Conversely 21 centres across suburban Perth have vacancy rates already over 15%, with 5 centres more than 25% vacant.

There are a range of factors contributing to the current level of vacancy - weak economic conditions post the mining boom, a string of national retailers going into administration and recent centre expansions adding supply.

Y Research Principal Damian Stone said, “So far COVID has had minimal impact on current vacancies. A limited number of retailers, mainly tourism based retailers such as travel agents, have surrendered their tenancies. For a majority of retailers, a combination of rental relief from shopping centre owners, a national code of conduct restricting evictions and Government Assistance (Job Keeper) has seen them return to trading."

"The longer term impact of the pandemic on WA’s shopping centres remains uncertain. Based on discussions with industry stakeholders, the expectation is that across the balance of 2020 we will see a limited number of retailers close, but the new looming cliff is February/March 2021 when Government assistance ends and investment decisions, such as ordering winter stock, are required."

"Retailers will be depending on a strong Christmas/New Year period in order to trade through the worst of the economic pain caused by the pandemic. Going forward, the internet is as much a threat to centres as COVID. The pandemic has driven significant retail sales online with a broader range of consumers happy to shop online through platforms such as Amazon, Uber Eats and retailers’ expanded e-commerce platforms."

"The pandemic has seen the range of products purchased online grow from fashion, food and entertainment (Netflix and books) through to groceries and homewares."

"The continued closure, either full time or on reduced hours, of a number of national chain stores is a likely early indicator of consolidation of store networks adding to existing high vacancies. Further closures will be difficult to fill."

"In response, in the years ahead the tenancy mix across WA centres will evolve with services such as medical centres and gyms becoming a standard feature; lower discretionary spending will drive take up from discount retailers and moves to add density surrounding the centre will be common place."

"For retailers, further discounting will likely be required in order to get consumers to part with limited discretionary spending post Government assistance."

Staff reporter

Western Australia
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