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The Proven Resilience of Ireland’s Community Shopping Centres

What is a Community Shopping Centre? 

Community Shopping Centres are characterised by a large supermarket anchor usually occupying over 50% of the scheme’s floor area. The balance of occupiers is typically complimentary or ancillary to the grocery offer, providing daily and weekly convenience needs to serve the local catchment such as butcher, pharmacy, coffee shop etc. These offers typically include local services, food & beverage, and high-frequency of purchase, low-cost retail products. While fashion offers may be included, these will generally be dependent on the catchment and competitive environment. Community Shopping Centres do not have the quantum of space compared to larger schemes to support a destination comparison or fashion led retail experience. 

How did COVID impact on these centres? 

The impact of COVID retail trading restrictions had different effects on footfall levels between shopping centre categories. The prevalence of essential retail uses within Community Shopping Centres meant the impact was relatively minor.  Footfall levels stayed at 80% of pre COVID levels in 2019 and turnover, in many cases, increased as physical retail spend was funnelled into essential services and products only. Comparison led schemes by contrast saw a drop of 40% of footfall during the same period. While the dominance of essential retail in Community Shopping Centres served to preserve footfall during trading restrictions, there has been a significant recovery of footfall over the last twelve months. Footfall levels in Community Shopping Centres are now back to 93% of 2019 levels. 

How will the increase in the cost-of-living impact these centres? 

During periods of recession and high rates of inflation, households still require essential goods and services. An increase in the cost of goods or a decrease in available income will see a larger portion of household expenditure directed towards the purchases of these goods. The net effect is that there is less available spend for want and luxury type goods. As the retail offer in Community Shopping Centres is generally need-focused, these centres are well positioned to perform relatively well and maintain occupier sustainability in difficult market conditions. The reliance on local catchments with short journey times also bodes well for these centres as the increased cost of fuel feeds into decision making for shoppers.

The need-focused nature of many typical Community Shopping Centre occupiers positions this category of centre to hedge against inflationary or recessionary shifts in the retail property market.  

 

Author:                 George Colyer, Surveyor, Bannon

Date:                     14th September 2022