Our General Manager of Retail Development, Joanna Russell, recently took part in a panel discussion on the outlook for retail in Australia for 2017 where despite some headwinds in different areas of the industry, the feeling in the room was optimistic.
I recently took part in a panel discussion on the outlook for retail in Australia for 2017 where despite some headwinds in different areas of the industry, the feeling in the room was optimistic.
As the General Manager of Retail Development for Frasers Property Australia, these nights are a valuable chance to meet with colleagues and chat about issues and changes within our industry.
While we’re all aware of the challenges of retail in 2017, I got the sense that many of us are hoping that these conditions compel us to innovate and do better.
Learning from our peers and taking the time to look holistically at what others are working towards is always valuable.
I thought I’d share a few of the key points that were thrashed out on the night. I’d love to know what you think.
Mixed-use developments are an increasingly important category in response to the continued population growth we are experiencing in our major cities. They are a natural response to the way people live and work today, and retail is now a primary focus in mixed-use.
When we talk about mixed use, we tend to focus on the vertical model of retail on ground with commercial or residential above. Our view is that mixed use is also horizontal.
Some of our developments such as Burwood Brickworks and Wyndham Vale in Victoria and Shell Cove in New South Wales contain retail developments that form the heart of a residential development. Both of these elements should be provided in direct response to community needs.
Equal Billing Between Residential and Retail
Where once retail was viewed as secondary to the residential component in mixed-use developments, there’s now a greater appreciation for the role a locally focused shopping centre can play. High quality retail amenity can truly add value to the residential component and help to drive sales.
Creating Meeting Places and Memories
Due to the densification and sprawl in our major cities, there is a growing sentiment that a sense of community is diminishing. By creating retail experiences that respond to the
communities needs and create spaces that people want to spend time in and feel a sense of ownership, we have the opportunity to build that community.
Achieving this community spirit relies on high quality common areas, a blurred line between public and private spaces, and the integration of traditional and non-traditional retail uses like local Government offices, community centres, medical, child care and education services.
Integrating community services with retail is one way to develop shopping centres that will have lasting relevance over the long term. By making space available for art displays, musicians, community markets and meeting places, you create memorable places where people need to visit, and want to stay. Bottom line benefits are the logical extension.
All of this changes the nature of shopping centres and the role they play in local communities. The sameness of the cookie-cutter approach to many existing shopping centres is dying, and we’re finding consumers are more inclined to visit and stay in retail centres that offer experiences and more than just shopping.
The Customer Evolution – Shoppers & Retailers
It’s not just centres that are changing, retailers are evolving as well. Increasingly they’re investigating and investing in ways to better engage with customers. As a developer, this means we must create different spaces to accommodate the changing face of retailers and those who want to push the boundaries of traditional retail to benefit the customer.
The Economic Upside of Sustainability
As retail races to catch up to the wider property industry in relation to sustainability there is a real possibility the end value is being underestimated. Here at Frasers we truly believe sustainability is a two-pronged approach that should not just be applied to design and construction but also to the liveability of our spaces. We believe our investment in centre ambience such as fresh air, daylight, greenery and a true sense of open space will not only create environmental benefits but will also naturally increase dwell times and customer spend by creating spaces they are comfortable in.