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Research shows ten per cent vacancy in City Mall

8 April 2006

Retail research shows ten per cent vacancy in City Mall

David West

Research into central Christchurch’s City Mall by an international retail expert has highlighted a number of positive features in the city’s premier retail and business precinct, despite the area overall being due for refurbishment.

David West, an international retail consultant from Australia, has completed initial research as part of the redevelopment of the City Mall being carried out for Christchurch City Council by New Zealand-based Isthmus Group. He said vacancy levels are just below 10 per cent of more than 400 stores in the total study area, which is bounded by Lichfield, Oxford, Hereford and Manchester Streets.

“That level is about what you would expect for a Main Street shopping environment. However, it can be reduced – as part of this project we will be working to bring vacancy numbers down through a business retention and attraction strategy over the next few years.

“While reducing vacancies below ten per cent is achievable for the total area, vacancies in the City Mall itself are actually at international benchmark levels. Only five per cent of some 80 stores in City Mall are currently vacant. Vacancy levels below five per cent in a Main Street environment can be very difficult to achieve, as there is always turnover due to some shops relocating around the city and being replaced by new ones.

“A new shop like R & R Sports, which has quickly moved into the old Euphoria site on Colombo, is a case in point. A sensational new Supre store, due to open very soon in the old Arthur Barnett site in the Mall, also demonstrates that there can be a big upside to central city retail renewal – vacancies from established stores moving out create opportunities for someone new to come in,” he said.

David West’s research revealed an extensive range of food outlets in the Central City, including 26 cafes, 24 restaurants, 43 takeaway food outlets and 12 food convenience stores servicing city workers and new city residents.

“‘I was really impressed with the quality of stores and their presentation when I was conducting my research,” said David West.

“Sergios, Glassons, Overland, Acquistion, Last, Face of Stockholm, Barkers, Hallensteins, Essence Hair and Beauty, Andrea Biani and Vom Fass particularly caught my eye, and the international standard Contemporary Lounge upstairs in Ballantynes caught me completely by surprise.”

David West has been working in retail shopping centres and main streets for the past 15 years in Australia. He managed the CBD pedestrian only Rundle Mall in Adelaide from 1999 to 2002 for the Adelaide City Council and retailers.

Meanwhile Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, which managers the Central City ‘Always Different’ marketing campaign, says encouraging retailers in this area to work together will make it much stronger.

‘Always Different’ campaign manager Leeann Watson said the City Mall is a vital precinct in the Central City.

“As part of the Central City marketing campaign, we are supporting promotion of the different precincts the Central City has to offer. Retailers and property owners in the mall area are eager to be involved in design discussions with the Isthmus Group. Bringing them together to work to a co-ordinated strategy for the area, in parallel to this process, is a very positive approach,” she said.


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