Retailer demand takes Glenferrie Rd to top

Hawthorn’s Glenferrie Rd is Melbourne’s most tightly-held retail strip.
Hawthorn’s Glenferrie Rd is Melbourne’s most tightly-held retail strip.

Hawthorn’s Glenferrie Rd has topped a list of Melbourne’s 10 most tightly-held shopping strips, with just 2.1% of its stores lying vacant.

The popular suburban strip, east of the Melbourne CBD, has seen a drop in vacancy from 4.8% in 2012 as a Melbourne-wide retail boom continues to attract new tenants, according to research from Savills.

Total vacancy across Melbourne’s 10 major strips has fallen by more than a quarter since 2012, when 253 shops were empty. Now 184 shops are without tenants – putting overall vacancy at 7%, down from 9.5%.

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Brighton’s Church St lost top spot as the city’s most tightly-held strip, with its 2.3% vacancy rate a slight increase on the 1.7% it enjoyed four years ago.

Puckle St in Moonee Ponds came in third at 4.1% vacancy, down from 6.2% in 2012.

Vacancy has dropped on Chapel St.

Vacancy has dropped on the iconic Chapel St retail strip.

The famous Chapel St precinct from South Yarra to Windsor, much maligned in recent years as tenants pulled up stumps due to soaring rents, is back in vogue with vacancy dropping from 10.7% to 8%.

And nearby Toorak Rd’s vacant space has more than halved, with 6.1% of its shops not tenanted, compared with 14.9% four years ago.

But not every strip is riding the boom.

Some strips, such as Bridge Rd, have struggled in recent years but that has been more to do with tenancy mix and a lack of local government initiatives

Richmond’s popular fashion destination Bridge Rd continues to struggle to attract new retailers, with 13.6% vacancy, up from 13.2% in 2012.

High St in Armadale also has more shops vacant and currently sits at 7%.

Savills’ Victorian research manager Monica Mondkar says that while some strips still have high vacancy, Melbourne’s growing population meant that all strips would continue to perform.

Richmond's Bridge Rd retail area still has high vacancy.

Richmond’s Bridge Rd retail area still has high vacancy.

“Some strips, such as Bridge Rd, have struggled in recent years but that has been more to do with tenancy mix and a lack of local government initiatives,” Mondkar says.

“Retailers in the most popular strips, such as Chapel St, South Yarra and Toorak Rd, Toorak, can generally now look forward to tighter vacancy with stronger fundamentals underpinned by the massive influx of residents to new apartment developments.

“Retailers left behind will be those in strips where the mix of retailers has failed to attract consumers and where they lack effective local government support.”

Savills’ research found that cafes, restaurants and takeaway food outlets were the biggest drivers of tenancy uptake and now made up 581 of the 2620 shops surveyed, up from 484 shops in 2012 – a 20% increase.

The Burke Rd strip in Camberwell.

The Burke Rd shopping strip in Camberwell.

Services-based shops were up 12% to 612 shops, however 118 clothing, footwear and accessories stores shut their doors over the same period, leaving 663 still in action.

Savills Victorian Director Retail Services, Michael Di Carlo, says the growth in food and beverage stores is a direct result of Melbourne’s apartment boom.

“Population growth has been the key to the growth in these sectors, and these are the sectors which cater for the most immediate needs of local residents,” Di Carlo says.

“The decrease in fashion related stores, on the other hand, may be about the competition from national and international brands along with a preference for that type of shopping elsewhere including the CBD or the larger enclosed centres,” he says.

Melbourne’s top 10 retail strips

Retail strip vacancy 2016 2012
Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn 2.1% 4.8% Down
Church St, Brighton 2.3% 1.7% Up
Puckle St, Moonee Ponds 4.1% 6.2% Down
Centre Rd, Bentleigh 5.1% 7.0% Down
Toorak Rd, Toorak 6.1% 14.9% Down
Toorak Rd, South Yarra 6.2% 14.8% Down
High St, Armadale 7.0% 6.1% Up
Burke Rd, Camberwell 7.1% 7.5% Down
Chapel St, South Yarra to Windsor 8.0% 10.7% Down
Bridge Road, Richmond 13.6% 13.2% Up
Total Vacancy 7.0% 9.5% Down