Shopping centres will be forever changed thanks to the coronavirus crisis, even when lockdowns are completely lifted, experts say. 

Melbourne’s major shopping centres ,such as Chadstone in the city’s southeast and Highpoint in the west, are expected to evolve into never-before-seen spaces.

Shoppers should expect less fashion and food retailers, more entertainment and non-retail services such as childcare and medical centres, offices, hotels, council offices and even police stations.

RMIT University marketing associate professor Con Stavros is surprised the growing US trend hasn’t already started.

Shopping centres will be never be the same again when the coronavirus crisis is over. Pictured: A near empty Melbourne central shopping mall on March 2

Melbourne’s major shopping centres such Melbourne Central (pictured) are expected to evolve into never-before-seen spaces

‘Australian shopping centre managers might try and lure more of these service providers into their complexes given it broadens their retail mix and enhances the potential to maximise foot traffic,’ he told the Herald Sun.

Colliers International head of retail Michael Bate added: ‘There will be a focus of landlords on creating a good experience for consumers.’

Shopping centres and retailers feeling the strain of the coronavirus were forced to change their business models as a result of lockdown measures. 

But experts say there will be a dramatic change in stores and services – and it will come into effect far quicker than anticipated.





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Some retailers may be forced to close completely while other businesses will need to re-evaluate how they operate to conform to social distancing measures.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said the pandemic has already impacted the way people shop and the way retailers engage with customers. 

Mr Zahra said the pandemic, mixed with the growth in online shopping, will have a long-term impact on shopping centres.

Shoppers should expect less fashion and food retailers and more entertainment and non-retail services such as childcare and medical centres, offices, hotels, council offices and even police stations. Pictured: Westfield Shopping centre in Doncaster, Melbourne 

‘The tenancy mix in most shopping centres will continue to evolve as most retailers will assess their portfolio and reduce the number of stores they need, and choose not to renew leases which lack commercial value while investing heavily in their digital strategies,’ he said. 

Chadstone Shopping Centre already saw major changes last year with the opening of Hotel Chadstone and plans for a $685million redevelopment.

The new development includes a nine-storey commercial office building, more dining and leisure spaces, a new fresh food precinct and a focus on workplace, wellness and lifestyle retailers.

Mr Bate predicts cafes and restaurants will be the hardest hit due to the continuous social distancing restrictions.

Myer has closed all stores as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (pictured in Castle Hill, Sydney)

While restrictions are expected to be eased it is likely a limit of numbers will impact trade, he said.

Meanwhile supermarkets and pharmacies have seen a huge growth in sales and have adapted to a growth in online sales.

Fashion and footwear have both been hit especially hard by the pandemic with the sector having the largest number of voluntary shutdowns because of lack of sales.

Mr Bates predicts some stores and brands will not survive COVID-19, but the long-term outlook for retail could still be positive.

Consumers still want to browse and touch products, a recreational element of shopping that cannot be recreated online. 

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