This week in retail property

Rent relief a boon to sector

A Shopping Centre Council of Australia survey of its members found that, so far, more than 5000 offers, in-principle agreements or agreements for rental assistance had been reached with small and medium-sized businesses by mid-May, the Australian Financial Review reports.

The agreements follow the federal government’s introduction in April of a mandatory code of practice setting out the scope of rent relief agreements.

Although Westfield-operator Scentre and Vicinity Centres, the country’s second-largest shopping mall owner, have reported that most of their stores – some 80 per cent – are open and trading again, the shutdown and slower conditions across the malls sector has weighed on them, with rental income slashed drastically.

Vicinity collected less than half the rent owed between March and May, the AFR reports. The sharp drop in income hit its portfolio valuation, forcing the shopping mall owner to launch a $1.4 billion raising last week to shore up its balance sheet.

Of the rent-relief deals struck so far, cafes and takeaway stores in shopping centres account for the largest proportion, with some 30 per cent of the agreements.

Retail services – hair, beauty, nails, shoe repairs – account for 23 per cent. Clothing and footwear stores make up 13 per cent of the agreements. A much lower proportion of rental deals – below 5 per cent – were struck with newsagent, pharmacy and cosmetics, homewares and entertainment businesses, the newspaper reports.

ECQ finally ready to open its doors

The first stage of Eastern Creek Quarter (ECQ) is set to open next Wednesday, June 10, anchored by a 3800sqm Woolworths supermarket, and with some 10,000sqm of GLA.

Joining Woolies opening next week are BWS, Choice Pharmacy, Toy Deals, Red Dollar, CSD Fashion, Planet Mobile, Fonesolution, The Goodfellas Room, Hair & Co, CTC Eastern Creek, Bonds Outlet, Little Prince Flower Shop and Neo Body Laser Clinic, among a number of other varied retailers.

The Live Well Health Clubs gym will open on June 13.

The ECQ Social precinct features what it believes is a first in Australia – revolving retail. The suite of food offers will change from time to time, giving customers a taste of different cuisines and styles of presentation, and keeping boredom at bay.

ECQ Social also features an outdoor deck, kids play area and a large-format outdoor digital screen.

ECQ was scheduled to open in March but COVID-19 interfered with the plans as shoppers needed to be kept safe and Woolworths needed its new large space in its delivery operations.

Centre manager Frasers Property is now focused on the second stage of the development, which will add some 11,600sqm of large-format retail space as well as 350 additional parking places.

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