This week in retail property news

Malls work out rent deals

A survey of members of the Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA) has revealed that more than 5000 offers, in-principle agreements or agreements for rental assistance have been reached between landlords and small business retailers following the devastation to businesses of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cafes, food catering and takeaway, plus services such as beauty salons, account for more than half of the agreements, as many of these retailers were hit by mandatory government trading restrictions.

Newsagent, pharmacy and cosmetics, homewares and entertainment businesses each accounted for less than 5 per cent of rental assistance offers or agreements made by SCCA members to date, highlighting that some sectors have performed better than others during the pandemic. Some SME retailers have not made requests for rental assistance.

 After the Prime Minister’s introduction on April 7 of a Commercial Tenancy Code of Conduct, national retail groups and shopping centre landlords united to work out a set of retail leasing principles for retail leasing that would assist both retailers and landlords.

 They hoped to achieve a set of good faith leasing principles for commercial tenancies between owners, operators, other landlords and tenants in circumstances where the tenant is a small business with an annual turnover of up to $50 million.

 “It’s pleasing that shopping centres and SME retailers are continuing to work together to keep the economy moving, particularly as momentum builds in consumer confidence, foot traffic and store reopenings,” SCCA executive director Angus Nardi told Shopping Centre News.

Michelle Abbey, Stockland’s GM of retail, said that it is integral that Australian shopping centres continue to evolve and adapt to best serve their customers, particularly as retailers and the global marketplace face new challenges.

“There are literally thousands of examples of SME retailers and shopping centre owners sitting down, looking at the information and reaching agreements that are proportionate and fair, and benefit both parties over the long term.”

GPT assets drop $476.7 million

GPT Group, one of the largest owners, managers and developers of retail property in Australia, has announced that the value of properties it holds has fallen 8.8 per cent, or $476.7 million, since December 31, a flow-on effect of the precipitous drop in retail trade figures during the period and the continuing uncertainty in consumer sentiment.

“The retail asset revaluations reflect the independent valuers’ assessment of the effects that COVID-19 and the subsequent social restrictions have had on our retail assets,” GPT CEO Bob Johnston told Shopping Centre News.

 “This has generally been reflected in lower market rental growth rates, increased vacancy and abatement allowances and some softening in investment metrics.”

 However, Johnson said that he was pleased to see retail activity picking up as restrictions are eased. He said across the company’s regional shopping centres, approximately 90 per cent of stores were open and foot traffic has returned to approximately 85 per cent of the level at the same time last year.

Stockland’s new shopping service

Stockland Centres in NSW and Queensland have launched a personal shopping service, Deliver on Demand (DOD), an

app-based, online marketplace that allows customers to order

items from multiple shops on a single platform.

 Customers can browse hundreds of items from restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, pharmacies, or even specialty stores such as pet shops or florists. In time, this will include beauty items, apparel, tech, accessories and more.

The service blends online efficiency with a human touch. Once a customer’s order is complete online, they are assigned a “personal shopper” who receives their order and attends the shops for

them. In the case of out-of-stock items, cancellations or changes, the shopper is able to contact the customer directly to resolve the issue and update the order in real-time, Shopping Centre News reports.

The service pilot has now launched at Stockland Burleigh Heads and Stockland Townsville in Queensland, as well as Stockland Balgowlah in Sydney.

The DOD service does not take a commission, and it is hoped it will help struggling retailers as well as customers.

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