After COVID hibernation, the shopping centre is back

12 April 2022

Near-record low unemployment, a $250 billion national savings pool and rising wages will see shopping centres bounce back strongly over the next 12 months according to AMP Capital.

AMP Capital Head of Retail and Investment, Marco Ettorre said Australians remained reluctant to travel internationally due to COVID-19 and have continued to save over the last two years, pointing to a strong boost for shopping centres.

“As COVID restrictions wane and consumers regain the confidence to go shopping, conditions for retail real estate are starting to look favourable again. And for all the pain of the pandemic, households in 2022 are in a better position to spend,” Marco Ettorre said.

“It’s not back to the pre-Covid levels but there are good returns available and retail-led mixed-use opportunities for investors on the right shopping centre assets,” he added.

Newer shopping centres that cater for a mix of uses should deliver excellent returns.

“Leading shopping centres are blurring the lines across real estate categories by adding office space, residential, education facilities, healthcare and other services under the same roof,” Mr Ettorre said.

“Apartment developments are a key opportunity for many malls, especially those located near good public transport links and with the ability to build above their retail centre. Office towers are also featuring in developments, bringing key amenity under one roof and creating ease of use for the local community. The right shopping centres in the right locations are going to do very well in the months and years ahead.”

The opening of a new automotive precinct as part of a $40 million investment in AMP Capital’s Indooroopilly Shopping Centre is the latest example of the diversification under way in Australia’s premier shopping malls.

The 2400 square metre precinct will accommodate showrooms for more than eight vehicle manufacturers within the shopping centre in an Australian-first for automotive retailing.

“The Automall West precinct at Indooroopilly will enable consumers to buy a new car or service their existing vehicle without leaving the shopping centre. It is this kind of innovation that will be needed to retain the appeal of shopping centres for consumers who want greater convenience and as we emerge from COVID-19.”

Macquarie Centre in Sydney’s north has concept approval for residential and office towers, and in Perth, Karrinyup shopping centre includes a piazza and main street with leisure, lifestyle and entertainment offerings, with a residential development underway.

Quay Quarter, AMP Capital’s flagship development in Sydney’s Circular Quay, will also include luxury residential, food and beverage and boutique retail set among the surrounding laneways linked to the Quay Quarter Sydney commercial tower, set to redefine Circular Quay.

“Without continuing to innovate and evolve like these new retail destinations, Australian shopping centres risk going the way of big retail centres around the world that have stagnated and suffered as consumers moved to newer, cutting-edge facilities.”