Adelaide’s vacancy rates rose 2.6 percentage points to 18 per cent and Melbourne was up 1.7 percentage points to 14.9 per cent. The CBD vacancy rate increased most in Brisbane – up 4.6 per cent to 18.9 per cent – where the omicron wave combined with severe flooding in late February to delay a retail recovery in the central city.
“Secondary CBD locations are struggling and contributing to the increased vacancy rate largely due to the flight to quality currently under way,” said CBRE associate director for retail leasing, Tanaka Jabangwe.
Along with the long shadow thrown by lockdowns and the initial waves of COVID-19, the anticipated rebound in retail has been disrupted all over again by labour shortages and supply chain issues. As staff dwindle and fitout materials become scarce, new shop openings have been pushed back to later this year or next.
The CBRE shop count takes in 4834 CBD retail outlets, spread through shopping centres, arcades and strips. Melbourne has the highest number of stores at 1832, followed by Sydney at 1082.
Sydney’s CBD retail sector has proven most resilient through a combination of factors: the return of international travellers in February, fewer lockdowns, more retail outlets managed within centres, and the expansion of top shelf retailers.
Luxury brands Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni and Brunello Cucinelli all took advantage of softer conditions to strike long-term leases for flagship stores in Sydney’s CBD over the first half.