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Shopping centre pressure

DWINDLING income and poor forecasts threaten Perth’s premier shopping centre Forrest Chase.

Macquarie Research Equities’ analysis of centre owner Armstrong Jones Retail Fund showed the shopping centre’s income had declined 10.2 per cent and revealed sales had been dropping since 1997.

Predictions for the centre are not optimistic. Country Road recently moved from the centre to Murray Street and competition will intensify when the $100 million David Jones redevelopment of the old Aherns city store is completed.

Myer is building a whitegoods and homewares Megamart on the old Canterbury Court site – five minutes walk from Forrest Chase.

Myer is believed to be taking the whitegoods and homeware section out of its Forrest Place store to support the Megamart.

Armstrong Jones Retail Fund fund manager Kerr Bray said the CBD retail sector had been under pressure for some time.

Reasons included competition from the extended Westfield Carousel and AMP’s refurbished Garden City shopping centre.

Mr Bray said the Megamart would hurt Myer’s Forrest Chase trade but not Armstrong Jones.

“We have the Myer lease ratcheted so its rental will stay at the level it is,” he said.

Mr Bray believes the David Jones development will also pay dividends for Forrest Chase.

Along with the Woolworths supermarket to be built immediately east of the centre, the David Jones store will allow Forrest Chase’s upper level walkway network to be completed.

“Those developments will make the walkway between Forrest Chase and Aherns more prominent,” Mr Bray said.

He believes the proposed Perth convention centre and sports stadium, combined with the retail developments, will give the CBD’s languishing retail sector a fillip.

“Anything that brings people to the CBD will be beneficial.”

CBD traders believe a lack of car parking is another reason shoppers favour suburban shopping centres.

“However, public transport access to the CBD is certainly better than it is to the regional

shopping centres,” Mr Bray said.

Councillor Jennifer MacGill, whose family also owns the TJ Sharp gift shop in the CBD, believes city shopping would be more attractive if a parcel delivery service was introduced.

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