COVID-19 has changed the way Australians live and work and the impact can be seen across suburban based shopping centres.
General manager of JMK Retail, Vicki Leavy, believes the disruption COVID-19 has caused to retailing has highlighted just how resilient and essential the suburban village hub is to the local community.
JMK Retail constructed its first suburban shopping centre in 1956, which it proudly still owns. Since then it has quietly grown its portfolio into one of Australia’s oldest well respected specialist suburban shopping centre developers and owners. Originating from, and still based out of Toowoomba in Queensland, JMK Retail was the first to introduce casual dining precincts into the suburbs of Toowoomba and Ipswich. It is these same local shopping centres that have proven to be incredibly robust and agile over time, most notably during the currnet COVID pandemic – whcih is spearheading the growth of community retail hubs. JMK Retail’s latest development is Yamanto Central.
Due for completion in the first half of 2021, Yamanto Central is the first stage of exciting 25 hectare Yamanto Town Centre masterplan, which will bring together a modern, convenient and community oriented mix of retail, health and wellness and casual dining to the area. Located within Brisbane’s western growth corridor, Yamanto Central is approximately 35 kilometres from Brisbane’s CBD and five kilometres south of Ipswich CBD.
“While some areas of retail including city based shopping precincts and large format shopping centres have suffered dreadfully as a result of isolation, and working from home, it’s the local suburban centres that once again have demonstrated just how buoyant this sector is by outperforming the big boxes,” Leavy said.
“I put this down to three key reasons:
- Convenience and safety
Travel distances and touch points are of a minimum. People are actively avoiding going to places such as large shopping centres where there are lots of people,
- Tenant mix offering one stop shopping
Generally our centres cater for all that’s needed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. With many people working from home, they are staying close to home and only venturing out to their local shops when they need to buy things. Importantly, these centres also cater to consumers’ personalised discretionary spend; and
- Comfort of knowing the local area coupled with personalised service
Local shops provide a sense of normalcy and familiarity. People feel comfortable visiting their local shopping centre – and there is a lot to be said for the vital socialisation provided by the local neighbourhood shopping centre. It’s only in this scale of centre you experience the person behind the counter who knows your name.
“Through this terrible pandemic, suburban retail centres have become important places for people to feel connected and safe.”
According to Leavy, many businesses operating out of suburban shopping centres have also enjoyed stronger levels of support and flexibility from their landlords.
“JMK Retail currently owns six shopping centres including our soon to open centre in Yamanto. Our focus during COVID-19 has been to provide as much support to our traders as possible,” Leavy said.
“Despite the gradual reopening of the country, businesses in the retail sector are going to need continued support from shopping centre managers and landlords until the economy fully recovers.
“I think we will see a lot of businesses moving from city shopping precincts and large format shopping centres to local suburban centres.
“Many retail businesses are starting to realise the benefit of operating in local suburban centres. They enjoy strong support from their local communities and the centres tend to offer more flexible leasing and management arrangements than their larger big box counterparts. In the current economic environment that is exactly what retail businesses want and need – flexibility and empathy.”
Yamanto Central project director, James Hood of DMA Partners, concurs with Leavy’s views.
“We are continuing to receive strong interest in Yamanto Central from a broad range of retailers,” Hood said.
“Enquiry levels are telling us that retail brands and family owned businesses are seeing local shopping centres as the ideal location in the new post COVID market space.”
“Neighbourhood shopping centres will always have a place in communities as they genuinely create important hubs for people. Community becomes even more important during challenging times,” Leavy added.
“Regardless of economic forecasts over the next 12 to 24 months, the economy will still continue to turn, new businesses will launch, existing businesses will expand and revolutionary retail concepts will appear – and they will all need somewhere to trade. Judging by the level of interest and support being shown for local suburban shopping centres, I’d say many of these new ventures will end up operating local.”
Yamanto Central leasing enquiries to Comac Retail Property Group:
0452 288 484
0411 468 660