Retail services are an increasingly growing category, helping shopping centres to futureproof themselves in an online world and to give consumers a reason to walk through their doors.
Tony Tsekouras, general manager of retail leasing at Stockland, says his group has witnessed a sharp rise in retail services in its shopping centres.
According to Tsekouras, retail services – including banks, laser clinics and the wellbeing category – now accounted for 16 per cent of Stockland’s retail mix.
Similarly, Tony Doherty, head of retail, property and asset management Australia at JLL, says a recent JLL survey across its 300 odd shopping centres revealed that services have gone up from 10 per cent of the mix to 12 per cent over the past 12 months, largely in areas such as medical, beauty, travel agencies, insurance, and hairdressers.
“In the past, we didn’t have dentists in Australian shopping centres. Now they are there,” says Tsekouras.
“The traditional beautician is being broken up into nail bars, laser clinics, eyebrow threading and so on. And new technology for hair removal is driving up consumer demand for laser clinics.
“Audiology is also growing because of the aging population. We now see the emergence of National Hearing Care and Bay Audio in shopping centres. And Specsavers is also moving into audiology.
“Then there’s health services with Bupa and the likes opening more shop fronts in shopping centres. Shoppers have to come in for many of these services because they can’t do them online.”
Tsekouras adds that more banks are investing in new fit-outs and new branches in shopping centres.
“They recognise that the face-to-face meetings that can occur in a shopping centre that has footfall maximises their exposure to customers.”
He says the demand for these services is being driven those who retailers can see what’s happening at the coalface and what their customers want.
So what could hold this growth back in future? Disrupters, according to Doherty, who could impact banks and travel agencies.
“These may have a larger number of stores in the future, but may occupy less space,” says Doherty.
But he notes: “The biggest trend JLL is experiencing is the growth of casual dining and that is more prominent than the trend towards services.
“It’s all about providing internet-resistant retailers... Yes, it’s about creating foot traffic and sales, but even more importantly, people want to feel connected through social media and valued. They want to feel that they are going to benefit from loyalty programs. And they want to enjoy a good experience.”