Retail surge in Melbourne South East industrial market

Retail occupier activity thrives in South East Melbourne's industrial market with record gross take-up through last year.

May 10, 2024

Melbourne’s South East industrial market is experiencing an upward rise in retail trade take-up, driven by confidence in the precincts weighting to major shopping centres, strengthening in-store shopping trends, and strong population growth projections.

The South East recorded an all-time high take-up level for the Retail Trade sector in 2023, with over 106,000 sqm in gross take-up. This accounted for 26.4% of the precincts total lease activity for the year, which is the second highest annual ratio of all time behind 2018. Ten separate occupier moves made up the annual take-up level, which is once again, an all-time high for the South East. This gross take-up level is the second highest by precinct in Melbourne, only falling short to the West with 163,000 sqm. The West still attracts industrial take-up due to its proximity to the airport, freight lines, port of Melbourne, and its existing logistic estate amenities. However, the West observed a reduction of 54% in retail trade take-up from 2022 to 2023. In contrast, the South East industrial take-up has seen an uplift in Retail trade take up of 379% between 2022 and 2023.

The growth in industrial take-up by retail businesses mirrors improving shopping centre performance. The South East is renowned for its major regional shopping centres such as Chadstone, Fountain gate and Eastland. When looking at moving annual total (MAT), the South East accounted for 64% (MAT) of all tracked retail centres across Greater Melbourne in FY2024.

Sustained population growth in the South East has resulted in a concentrated market, making it a prime opportunity for retail brands to gain exposure and expand their presence. ‘Victoria in Future 2023’ (VIF2023), the official state government projection of population and households predicts that in the 10-year period between 2021 and 2031, the South East will see a population increase of 201,113 (at an SA4 level). This is second only to the West precinct (288,296) when looking at Melbourne’s population forecast (table below for reference).

Figure 1: Melbourne SA4 population by suburb

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Longer term enquiry for buildings in 12 to 18 months is a growing trend in the South East. Consumer spending is expected to experience a positive shift because of the anticipated softening of monetary policy, which will particularly benefit the retail sector. This also relates to the forecasted industrial rents through the South East where growth is set to continue for the coming years. The latest Australian Retail Report by KPMG in December 2023 detailed the re-ignition of physical retail shopping with the report stating that 73% of Australians prefer to shop in store. The Australian Post 2024 e-commerce industry report indicated slowed growth in online shopping, with year on year reduction in online spending in both Gen Z and Y.

Retail brands have been anticipating this movement towards physical retail shopping and associated inventory requirements and as a result, are increasing warehouse space in proximity to retail stores, particularly in the South East Melbourne.

Figure 2: South East Melbourne Industrial take up by industry sector

Source: JLL Research