Bridge Road, Richmond records highest ever retail vacancy rate: KnightFrank

Some of Melbourne's most favourite retail high streets have experienced a significant jump in vacancies, most notably Bridge Road in Richmond.

The once popular discount fashion precinct, Bridge Road, recorded it's highest ever vacancy rate, according to the latest research from Knight Frank.

Vacancies along Bridge Road climbed to 16.5%, up from 11.5% a year earlier. And the research also showed that the strip had the highest churn rate at 11.9%, reflecting to the change of occupants.

Knight Frank Victorian research director, Richard Jenkins, said that Bridge Road’s loss of identity as a discount fashion destination as a result of the emergence of DFO centres had fuelled the rise in vacancy in recent years.

Other retail strips to record a spike in vacancy rates were Toorak Road in South Yarra, with vacancies nearly doubling to 12.8%; Glenferrie Road, Malvern rose from 3.6% to 6.2% while High Street, Armadale increased from 3% to 6.4%.

The emergence of online retailing was also partly blamed for fashion focused strips struggling.

But it wasn't all bad news for the high streets of Melbourne.

Burke Road in Camberwell; Puckle Street, Moonee Ponds; Acland Street, St Kilda; Clarendon Street, South Melbourne and Church Street, Brighton all experienced vacancy falls.

Mr Jenkins said the strips which recorded falls in vacancy rates all had a higher exposure to food and convenience based retailers, demonstrating the strength of the non-discretionary retail sector.

The Knight Frank research showed that Church Street in Brighton recorded a fall from 1.7% to 1.2%, as did Clarendon Street in South Melbourne, down from 6.2 % to 4.1%. Acland Street was stable at 2.8%.

Mr Jenkins said the outlook for many of those prime retail strips was "positive", pointing to new apartment developments coming on stream, "boosting the surrounding local population."

Rents in Chapel Street remain the highest, achieving rental levels of $1,000 per square metre per annum, whereas other strips such as Puckle Street, Moonee Ponds achieve rents of around $650 per square metre.

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