This week in property

Centres try a little Kindness

As governments across Australia threaten those shoppers driven to panic buying with fines or worse, Shopper Media is trying a different approach, based on persuasion rather than fear and appealing to our nobler instincts.

This week the media company launched a community campaign: “Kindness is…” across its Smartlite Network to encourage shoppers to remain calm, embrace a community spirit and practise healthy hygiene, Shopping Centre News reports.

Ben Walker, CEO of Shopper Media, says recent data has revealed a significant increase in foot traffic across its network of shopping centres.

“Compared to the week leading into Christmas last year, we have seen 36 per cent more shoppers in store as households continue to stock up pasta, rice, toilet paper and household essentials,” he told the website.

“In coming weeks, consumers will work from home, practise social distancing and avoid mass gatherings, however, many will continue their day-to-day activities like going to the grocery store and visiting chemists for personal, medical and hygiene items.

 “All current indications suggest the mode of ‘living locally’ and regularly visiting local shopping centres is not set to abate.”

Shopper Media will roll out its “Kindness is….” campaign across its portfolio of more than 360 retail centres, targeting key CBD and local communities across the country, and reaching more than 11.3 million Australian shoppers monthly, SCN reports.

 The Kindness campaign is in tune with similar approaches around the world. In the UK, for example, Good Housekeeping magazine reports that neighbours are reaching out to each other, offering help and support.

This campaign has reached Australia, too, with fliers showing up in Sydney letterboxes.

Eastern Creek misses opening day

Eastern Creek Quarter (ECQ), a new 10,000sqm retail centre in Western Sydney, has not been able to open on schedule because of coronavirus pressures on anchor tenant Woolworths.

ECQ was due to open on March 19, anchored by a 3800sqm full-line Woolworths supermarket plus 43 additional retail stores.

However, given an extraordinary level of demand for groceries across the country in recent weeks, Woolworths will temporarily convert the Eastern Creek location into an online store which will not be open to the public and will only service online deliveries.

Because of this, Frasers Property has made the decision not to open ECQ at this time.

“To open a neighbourhood shopping centre without the anchor tenant creates an unsustainable trading environment for the other retailers, even in usual circumstances. In these extraordinary circumstances, to open would not be in anyone’s best interests,” said Peri Macdonald, executive general manager retail for Frasers Property.

“Eastern Creek Quarter was completed, stocked and staffed with enthusiastic retailers and ready to provide the goods and services this community needs, so this decision has not been taken lightly,” he said.

“Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic is a highly fluid event affecting retailers and communities across Australia. We will continue to monitor the local situation, remaining ready, willing and able to open this valuable community asset as soon as possible,” Macdonald said.

This story first ran in Inside Retail Weekly. Given the current crisis, we have decided to unlock all premium content related to COVID-19. If you would like to support Inside Retail, please consider subscribing here.

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