Has COVID killed the retail sector?
Despite many strong opinions that the retail space is dead, walking the suburban high streets of our capital cities tells a different story with new businesses popping up and others expanding.
Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the increased number of commercial property searches which jumped 30 per cent year on year, with Tasmania leading the way at 28 percent.
Granted, there are some very sad situations where small businesses haven’t been able to hang on. CBDs in particular are hurting and capital city shopping strips have suffered from a lack of tourism, immigration and lockdown.
However, we must remove our emotion and remember this is nothing new. It’s easy to see a shop fitter stripping a fit out and think “Bloody COVID”, but small businesses frequently fail for a number of reasons, even in the absence of a pandemic.
What’s clear is that while retail continues to experience strong growth, only certain types of retail have benefitted from the changes in consumer behaviour. The typical high street is no longer home to shoes, bags, clothes and trinkets. This has mainly moved online and the tenancies have been replaced by service driven retail, rather than products.
Year-on-year change in searches for properties for sale
With this in mind, which sectors are expanding?
As the population grows, the need for services like food, massage, beauty, health and fitness, wellness, dental and medical has also grown. Right alongside this trajectory is our new convenience driven lifestyle: “I want Japanese for dinner in 15mins ordered from an app with little human contact.”
According to Ibisworld, the challenging and changing retail landscape was not ignited by COVID but has actually been around for some time and some key points to realise in the retail industry are:
Investment in certain retail sectors is clearly still thriving although it’s important to understand the shifts in consumer behaviour to avoid investing in the wrong type of retail site. While metropolitan CBDs and shopping centres have been hit hard, increases in population, and demand for property in regional areas, indicate the retail property sector is still very much alive once you know where to invest.