The needs and expectations of shopping centre customers has been rapidly evolving for many years, and while customers still value a traditional brick-and-mortar experience with quality customer service, they now want more than just a shopping centre. Customers are looking for places where they can enjoy spending time with friends and family, whether it’s shopping, quality dining, unique entertainment or wellness activities.
For a long time, shopping centres in the Perth metropolitan area were restricted by floorspace caps that prevented changes to floor plans and tenant mix to meet the changing needs of customers. This meant Western Australian centres weren’t able to reach their full potential unlike eastern state counterparts that were able to embrace national and international trends.
Pleasingly though, since the caps lifted in 2010, we have seen a wave of development happening in WA, with many shopping centre owners planning to expand and introduce larger retail tenancies, more inspiring food and beverage options, vibrant entertainment and leisure precincts and even residential, to meet the needs of customers.
As shopping centres in Perth continue to be developed, retailers will have an opportunity to display the full depth and breadth of their merchandise, which the current 80-90m2 retail stores do not always allow. We are finding that tenants, particularly international tenants such as H&M, are looking for larger spaces, sometimes needing anywhere between 2,000m2 and 4,000m2. The fact that Perth centres are now able to offer this new expanded space is exciting for customers as they will be able to enjoy a retail experience that’s on a par with what’s on offer overseas or in Sydney and Melbourne.
Inspiring food and beverage
Gone are the days of the traditional food court. We are now seeing a move towards much more sophisticated dining options within shopping centres, including café terraces, fresh food markets and restaurants. People are becoming far more ‘food-centric’, with higher expectations when it comes to dining experiences and having a variety of choice. Shopping centres need to rethink their existing food models to reflect this growing trend.
Vibrant entertainment and experiences
The rise of the ‘main street’ is also becoming evident in many shopping centres. These precincts create active movement of pedestrians and cars, bringing vibrancy for restaurants and entertainment options such as bars, restaurants, bowling and other leisure activities that generally haven’t been available at shopping centres before. The $800 million Karrinyup Shopping Centre development currently underway, will incorporate its own main street precinct, offering extensive leisure, lifestyle and entertainment options, with a state-of-the-art 10 screen HOYTS cinema.
Live where you shop
In the past, residential has been seen as a secondary use to a shopping centre, but shopping centre owners are now seeing this component as an important part of the overall mix given the contribution residents make to the success of retailers and in creating a vibrant community. The expanded Karrinyup Shopping Centre as an example, will include more than 100 residential apartments on completion, with the first stage of 94 apartments on the eastern side of the centre already under way.
With plenty of development already under way, Western Australian shopping centres have a tremendous opportunity to evolve to meet the needs of customers. And in challenging market conditions, the timing couldn’t be better to be see these transformations happening across Perth which will see shopping centres reinvent themselves as lively entertainment, commercial and residential hubs at the centre of many communities, now and into the future.