Shoppers are visiting malls and department stores significantly less frequently in this country than a year ago although Australian malls still remain the most visited in the Asian region, according to UBS.
In Australia shoppers are less interested in being offered even more dining options in malls and instead are keen to see more parking spaces provided.
These are among the findings of a deep-dive into mall life from the UBS Evidence Lab’s Bricks & Clicks report, which sampled 14,175 consumers across 14 countries to gauge what forms of bricks and mortar retail are most at risk in the region.
“Shoppers appear to be frequenting the malls less in Australia and this warrants a more cautious outlook when the reversing wealth effect is likely to impact spending,” the UBS team, led by Grant McCasker wrote in the report.
The survey shows that Australian consumers visit malls and shopping centres more often than shoppers in other countries, most likely because Australia’s malls have a stronger grocery offering, including at least one or two supermarkets.
However, the survey also reveals a substantial reduction in number of mall visits relative to the 2017 survey. In Australia, the frequency of visits had fallen by 15 per cent while in Taiwan, for example, visits had risen by 22 per cent.
“This is consistent with the rapid growth in online grocery sales (off a low base), which are growing at about 15-20 per cent in Australian and New Zealand,” the analysts wrote.
“It was concerning to see the drop-off in instore shopping (mall, supermarket, department stores) for the more mature markets such as Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.”
In Australia, online shopping accounts for 9 per cent of total retail sales, growing by an average 98 basis points year-on-year over the past six months. Helping drive the increase is the arrival of new entrants in the market such as Amazon while local players have improved their e-commerce offer. As well, “buy now, pay later” options are helping to boost online shopping.
However, the largest negative impact from rising penetration of online shopping is expected to be for high street retailers, according to the UBS team.
“Supermarkets on the other hand remain largely immune across the region,” they said.
The report uncovered some key differences in what Australian consumers are looking for in their malls. While shoppers in other markets would like to see more dining options, that’s not high on the agenda for Australian shoppers, who want to see more car parking options.
“Australian owners are focused on entertainment, lifestyle precincts with a focus on dining. Luxury precincts for niche assets are also in vogue,” the report said, noting that that strategy conflicts with its findings for Australian shoppers’ preferences.
“The survey suggests landlords should focus more heavily on cutting up underperforming department stores/discount department stores to boost variety and services while spending more on parking to improve access.”