JB Hi-Fi has taken up an extra 176 square metres at 245 Elizabeth Street, expanding its physical footprint at 239-243 Elizabeth Street, to prepare for increasing footfall throughout the CBD once restrictions are eased.

In a sign of confidence in the future of CBD retail, Cushman & Wakefield’s Melbourne retail leasing team has completed a range of deals in the discretionary retail space, with retailers seeking to maintain or expand their footprint and leverage favourable conditions to secure coveted retail locations.

According to Cushman & Wakefield’s research team, there is strong evidence that retail will experience a substantial rebound once trading can resume. ABS data for June showed a 27.9% increase in turnover month-on-month for cafes, restaurants, and take-away food outlets, alongside a 20.5% turnover increase in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing.

Cushman & Wakefield head of retail leasing for Victoria, Michael DiCarlo said, “Despite many bricks and mortar retailers grappling with forced trading restrictions, we continue to see examples of retailers taking advantage of favourable market conditions to position their businesses for the inevitable rebound. They are viewing it as an opportunity to maintain, expand or secure a coveted retail location.”

Cushman & Wakefield national director for research, Tony Crabb said, “The latest ABS data clearly shows the magnitude of the rebound when restrictions ease. We can expect an element of pent up demand as people unleash their savings and domestic tourism fuels holiday expenditure on clothing and restaurants, and as CBD workers return to their place of employment.

“It is clear the pandemic is having a significant impact not only in Victoria but around the country. The ability and desire of consumers to purchase clothing, footwear and personal accessories have been severely constrained. The lack of CBD workers in Melbourne has also had a marked impact on turnover in CBD locations, as has the lack of tourists and international students. Domestic tourists have also largely been absent.”

Other retailers establishing or expanding their footprint include homewares wholesaler Sohum, leasing 30 square metres in The Royal Arcade off Bourke Street Mall, pet goods retailer Danta Petz which has committed to 189 square metres at 261 Elizabeth Street, Lulu’s Kitchen which is growing into 31 Hardware Lane and fashion retailer Runway Secrets taking out 300 square metres at 88 Elizabeth Street.