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Mr. C

Melbourne CBD is being swallowed by the food chain

LT.COLLINSFoodies now rule the roost in Melbourne, with food venues outnumbering shops for the first time reports Craig Butt.

There are more cafes, takeaway outlets, restaurants and pubs than retailers in the City of Melbourne, thanks to a boom in food and a slump in retail in the central business district over the past two years. Analysis of City of Melbourne land use found there were 135 more hospitality venues than retailers in 2012. Hospitality venues jumped 7 per cent from 2469 in 2010 to 2636 in 2012 while the number of shops fell 3 per cent from 2575 to 2501.

The CBD has 108 more venues than it did two years ago while in Southbank foodies now have 41 more places to eat or drink. One of the city’s newest cafes, Flipboard, occupies a mere 20 square metres in a multi-level space in La Trobe street. ”There was nothing here before – it was just a staircase,” owner Megg Evans said. ”We removed two walls and put out a ceiling panel to make the cafe. It allowed us to open up a lost space.”

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Ms Evans said she and co-owner Martin Heide opened Flipboard because there weren’t many cafes in the area but more had sprung up since they first started thinking of opening up the space. But while cafes are booming, the CBD has seen a large drop in retail over the same period, with 52 fewer stores than in 2010. Retailers also suffered in Docklands, Carlton and North Melbourne. Only Southbank, where there were 21 more stores than in 2010, bucked the trend.

Richard Jenkins, research director at city property agent Knight Frank, said the trend reflected tougher retail trade conditions in recent years. ”What we have seen is that stores for more discretionary items such as clothing and footwear have been vacating the CBD and those shops have been replaced by food retailers such as cafes,” he said. Prime locations along Bourke and Collins streets remained sought after by retailers but tourist hot spots and areas around the city’s fringe were becoming more food-focused.

He said population growth in the CBD over the past 10 years also drove the shift towards more cafes and food establishments. Colliers International’s head of retail, Michael Bate, said it was a worldwide trend Australia had just caught up with. ”A living and working commercial tower population needs to be fed,” he said. He said landlords were also reducing the risk of failure by changing the mix of retail and food establishments as well as looking for additional sources of revenue. ”Once upon a time you would never see a coffee shop in the foyer of an office block. These days it is commonplace,” he said.

 

Mr. Collins,

Weak long black W a dash of cold milk

 

Xo.

 

[Craig Butt_ THE AGE]

December 1, 2013 × 0 comments