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Westfield’s return to form shows the ‘old normal’ isn’t quite dead

Photo of Westfield building

While many retailers are rightfully putting measures in place to ensure they are prepared for the pandemic-produced new normal, slowly but surely the ‘old normal’ is rearing its head.

According to Scentre Group, customer visits to their 42 Westfield Living Centres during the September quarter were at 90 per cent of the same time last year, as Aussies get back to life as they knew it in preparation for the incoming holiday period.

While like-for-like specialty store sales were down 1.9 per cent for the quarter, comparable major retailers were up 1 per cent according to Scentre, with 92 per cent of its retailers open and trading (excluding Victoria, which is expected to reopen over the coming weeks).

And though many of these centres are located in neighborhoods and suburbs, many are in major cities and CBDs which are beginning to show signs of life.

Once eerily-empty CBDs are once again seeing workers return to offices, said the Property Council of Australia, with Sydney CBD working at 40 per cent capacity as of October, Perth 77 per cent, Hobart 79 per cent, Darwin 73 per cent, Canberra 63 per cent, Brisbane 61 per cent and Adelaide 73 per cent. Melbourne operated at 8 per cent due to it’s lockdown during the survey period.

Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said the shift back to CBD working is welcome.

“This is encouraging news for the Australian economy, given the critical role of CBD-based businesses in supporting jobs and economic activity, including for all of those business which depend on CBD workforces for their viability,” Morrison said.

And with many retail doors open in CBDs and its centres, it’s encouraging news for retailers as well.

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