George St retail occupancy steady for five years

Occupancy of shops in George St, Dunedin, has remained unchanged in the last quarter for the...
Occupancy of shops in George St, Dunedin, has remained unchanged in the last quarter for the first time since 2016. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The occupancy of Dunedin’s George St retail sector has remained unchanged for the first time in five years.

The latest quarterly occupancy count released yesterday by Quantify Consulting Ltd, looked at three blocks in George St and found there were no new occupancies or vacancies since March this year, for the first time since 2016.

The total vacancy for George St remained at 11% or 14 shops.

There would usually be at least one new vacancy or occupancy, Quantify Consulting director Adam Binns said.

Dunedin benefited from not have a large shopping centre drawing people away from the city’s CBD, Mr Binns said.

"An example being Christchurch where a lot of business was drawn out of its CBD to retail malls out of the city and the central city suffered because of it.

"Dunedin is lucky because we don’t have anything like that," he said.

Occupancy had been holding steady for about the past 18 months and he did not see any reason for that to change in the next quarter.

"Things might change 1% or 2% in either direction but that is still pretty steady," he said.

Mr Binns believed the unchanged count could be a sign of a good economy.

Bezett Jewellers owner John Bezett, who has been on George St for 25 years, said retailers on the street were worried about the possible effect the proposed George St development would have on business.

"There has been a lot of speculation about what it might look like, which has caused a lot of unease.

"There is a strong movement on the council to get rid of parking out of the central city as well. We are all wondering how that may happen and what it could look like, which is also causing a lot of concern," he said.

Mr Bezett believed the council needed a clear plan in its long-term plan to support retailers in the area when the changes were made.

Trents Bag Shop owner Dana Gray said she did not have confidence in the current retail climate.

A "huge" part of her business was tourism which meant it had suffered with the border closures.

The opening of the transtasman bubble in April had resulted in a slight increase in business, Ms Gray said.

Foot traffic from George St was helping business "tick along", she said.

Although times were tough, Ms Gray had confidence the business climate would improve as more people were vaccinated and there was a clear road to recovery for tourism.

riley.kennedy@odt.co.nz

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