Scentre Group sees lift in customer visitation across its shopping centres

Westfield owner Scentre Group said it has seen a lift in customer visitation across its shopping centres.

Over the weekend, despite some businesses still being restricted from operating as usual, customer visitation in Westfield shopping centres across the country returned to 86 per cent of what it was at the same time last year.

In some centres, daytime visitation, which is 10am to 4pm, was back to 90 per cent of what it was compared with the same period last year. Night-time visitation is expected to lift throughout July as entertainment and leisure options open up.

“The immediate uplift in customer visitation reflects our desire as social beings to engage with friends and family and experience products and services in person,” said Phil McAveety, Scentre Group director for Customer Experience.

“What customers are telling us is that they want to get out and about again to their local centres because it’s part of their lives and daily activities,” McAveety said.

“Customers are feeling assured by safety and hygiene measures in our centres and are feeling more confident as they move around their local communities, of which we are a major part.”

McAveety said consumer spending by category post-restrictions matches the pandemic experience and easing of restrictions – supermarkets and premium food continue to perform well, youth-oriented and contemporary fashion has bounced back, as have beauty services.

He said many tenants stayed relevant online during the lockdown.

“Many of our retail partners noted a spike in online sales during the height of the pandemic, particularly those that had closed their physical store network,” he said.

“Now that the vast majority of physical stores are open and trading, we’re seeing those retailers benefitting from the ‘network effect’ of an integrated strategy across both physical and digital channels that allows them more opportunities to engage with their customers, more often.”

Approximately 92 per cent of retail stores across Australian Westfield centres are open, according to Scentre, with 94 per cent open across New Zealand Westfield centres.

In Australia, more stores are expected to open throughout July when restrictions on some entertainment, experience and dining categories are lifted, such as cinemas, gyms and foodcourts.

There are no physical distancing requirements in New Zealand following the move to Alert Level 1.

Consumer confidence in New Zealand was up 7.2 points to 104.5 in June, but is still well under its historical average, according to data released by ANZ Roy Morgan.

The ANZ Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Index recovered further in June. It has made back about half its fall, but is around 2009 levels.

Consumers’ perceptions of their current financial situation lifted 4 points to +4. The wage subsidy scheme and lower interest rates have countered job losses, but this remains a subdued level.

A net 32 per cent of consumers expect to be better off financially this time next year, up another 9 points.

“That is a full bounce-back but of course the bar for improvement is lower.”

According to Roy Morgan, New Zealand consumers are feeling more confident as life returns largely to normal.

However, the company said, people have had a solid dousing of cold water.

“Many people are worried about their jobs (or have lost them already), and the housing market is expected to be weak (figure 2). Willingness to buy major household items has bounced enormously off its lockdown lows, but remains at the levels prevailing in the last recession – hardly a period that retailers recall with fondness.”

Roy Morgan noted that perceptions regarding the next year’s economic outlook lifted another 9 points but remains very low at -37 per cent. The five-year outlook broke with the pack, falling 5 points to 19 per cent.

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