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CBD waits for shopping drawcards

CITY retailers suffering at the hands of suburban shopping centres face another tough 12 months before new major department stores draw customers back.

David Jones, Harris Scarfe, Woolworths and a Myer Megamart are all due to open next year and are expected to help restore the city’s identity as a premier shopping destination.

According to Colliers Jardine research manager David Cresp, this identity had been lost in recent years with the development of big suburban shopping centres removing the need for people to visit the city.

“In the past the city was seen as larger and as having a greater range,” Mr Cresp said.

“Its great strength was in the fact it had two major department stores but soon suburban centres had two major department stores and there was no point of difference.

“There is definitely anecdotal evidence that city retailers have had it hard with big shopping centres setting up.

“Some vacancies have been created and they are taking a long time to lease out again.”

Despite this, Mr Cresp believed the future of city shopping was bright and customers would return with the opening of the major stores.

Independent Retailers Organisation chairman Bob Stanton agreed but said simply building more major stores was not the answer.

“People no longer have a reason to go to the city for shopping,” Mr Stanton said.

“We need to bring more specialty traders back to the city, not the big Myers and David Jones stores which people can visit at the suburban centres.

“To bring people back there needs to be other things to do apart from shopping.”

Mr Stanton said that while the big stores would undoubtably help to bring the shoppers back, they would also create new problems.

“There is a constant push from the big end of town to deregulate trading hours,” he said.

“There is not a big enough shopping population to support this, and the small retailers are only going to hurt more.”

The newly elected Gallop Government has promised not to deregulate trading hours in its first term of government.

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