The future of Brisbane retail

March 21, 2018 / By

Gone are the days when Brisbane CBD retail was entirely reliant on the 9-5 working population. The city has evolved in recent years and the retail demand base has broadened enormously thanks to rapid growth in tourism, international students and new residents.

We expect this strong growth to continue and estimate that the night-time Brisbane CBD population (including permanent residents, students and temporary visitors) will increase around 54 per cent over the next four years.  This estimate is based on the pipeline of residential, hotel and student accommodation developments in the CBD and assumes an average level of occupancy.

Figure 1: Night Time Brisbane CBD Population – 2016 vs 2022Source: JLL Research & Australian Bureau of Statistics

What is driving this growth?

The increase in the Brisbane CBD resident population is in line with trends seen across the country towards high density living. Brisbane is embracing the benefits of inner city living and the convenience and amenities it offers. The demand for high density dwellings has prompted an unprecedented level of apartment development in Brisbane recently.

Student accommodation has also grown in line with national trends. Brisbane is viewed as a safe and liveable destination for students that offers world class universities. There are currently 1,451 operational student accommodation beds located in the Brisbane CBD and we expect around 2,500 additional beds will become available in the next few years.

We are also seeing several world class social infrastructure projects that will transform the city into a tourist hub and attract a larger share of the national tourism market. These projects include Queens Wharf, an integrated resort redevelopment project that will incorporate a new casino, five hotels, 50 new bars and restaurants and a retail precinct. The project developed by a consortium including Star Entertainment, Chow Tai Fook and Far East, is expected to particularly target the rapidly growing Asian tourist market.  The nearby Brisbane Quarter mixed-use development will also deliver a new 305 room W-hotel, podium level retail and luxury dining options. The two projects bring approximately 34,600 sqm of retail GFA including food and beverage, specialty retail and entertainment uses.

Complementing these projects, a new runway at Brisbane’s Airport will significantly boost capacity and help Brisbane secure direct flight routes from growing Asian cities, which cannot be accommodated in Sydney due to airport curfews. This will filter a lot greater share of new tourist growth through Brisbane.

What does this growth mean for CBD Retailing?

There is some concern about the amount of new retail stock in the Queens Wharf and Brisbane Quarter developments. However, this retail space will be very focused on specifically serving tourists and, as our analysis shows, there is likely to be significant growth in visitors to justify this supply.

For the rest of the retail market, there will be a period of adjustment. However, all other retail demand drivers (resident population, student population and worker population) will continue to grow strongly and this should support Brisbane’s existing retail stock. So we believe the future of Brisbane CBD retailing is bright and the sector will continue to evolve and flourish over coming years.

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