Retail sector a ‘key growth area’

Retail sector a ‘key growth area’

Southbank was identified as a key growth area in the Melbourne Retail Strategy 2006-2012 Year 6 Report Card released in September.

The number of retail and industry establishments in Southbank increased by 62 per cent between 2006 and 2010, from 239 to 388, and floor space for these establishments increased by almost 50,000m2.

City of Melbourne’s Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) described Southbank as an urban renewal area in the process of transition from an underutilised area into a sustainable living and working environment.

The report said major activities established as part of Southbank’s rejuvenation included the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and the South Wharf precinct.

Yarra River Business Association executive officer Tim Bracher said the reputation of Southbank as a retail precinct was still building.

“The big ‘sleeper’ in terms of retail and hospitality is at the World Trade Centre and the North Wharf development recently announced,” he said.

On a less positive note, a July 2012 survey found 13 per cent of Southbank shops were recorded as vacant, compared with 5 per cent in the Melbourne CBD.

Mr Bracher said the vacancy rates might be due to major refurbishments over the last two years, which saw a number of tenancies suspended until building works were complete.

“The re-opening of Hamer Hall and the reinstatement of the Southbank Promenade under Princes Bridge and from St Kilda Road has already seen an uplift in visitation,” he said.

The Year 6 Report Card was launched by Minister for Small Business and Innovation Louise Asher, who said the Victorian Government was committed to continuing development of the Retail Strategy.

“Melbourne has a strong reputation around the world as a city that embraces the retail sector as part of the city’s culture,” she said.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the increase in City of Melbourne’s retail and industry establishments since 2006 was impressive.

“While Melbourne is faring better than most other states, we must continue to find innovative ways to support and promote our retail industry and build on our standing as a key fashion and retail destination,” Mr Doyle said.

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