Retail recap for FY2022

Sam Curry heads up ISPT’s retail investment and leasing teams and oversees a diverse portfolio of around 70 properties across Australia. Here’s Sam’s take on the year that was, plus what’s coming up for ISPT’s retail sector in the year ahead.

It’s been a challenging few years in retail. How has this impacted ISPT’s retail sector and team?

The last year has really emphasised the genuine partnerships between ISPT and our retailers and brought that support and trust to the forefront. Lockdowns had a huge impact on some of our retailers, and a profound effect on our internal teams as well. We had over 50 people from ISPT and our property partners guiding retailers through our financial hardship process and getting support out to them as quickly as possible. Collectively we approved over 6,000 applications for support.  We appreciate that retailers have thrown their blood, sweat and tears into these businesses and it’s more than just a job for them, it’s their livelihood. So it had to be handled with compassion, empathy and respect.

It was a challenging time for the sector but also incredibly rewarding. We’ve received feedback from retailers that our financial hardship support has contributed to maintaining their business operations and even allowed some growth, which is fantastic to hear. It’s these success stories that really resonate with me and the team. We know our collective efforts have helped these businesses push through an incredibly difficult period, and they’re now in a better position to stabilise and grow.

What are some of the highlights of the last year?

I have to recognise and give credit to ISPT’s retail team, who have really stepped up and given their all over these covid-impacted periods. This was sometimes heavy and confronting work and everyone rallied together admirably. And at the end of the day, we were able to help many small businesses survive.

We’ve seen a huge boom in ecommerce over the last few years. Where does that leave the retail store?

Interestingly, we’re hearing from retailers their bricks and mortar stores are still highly valued by customers and the community, even with the surge in ecommerce. In fact, retailers tell us online-only stores don’t achieve the same levels of growth as when combined with a retail store in that catchment area. Because of this, retailers don’t want to choose just one way to sell their goods, and they shouldn’t have to. It’s more about working together and developing multi-channel selling strategies that appeal to and capture a wide audience, through online and in store personal experiences.

What’s in the pipeline for FY2023?

We’re working on a few exciting initiatives and diversification opportunities with customers. One of these is investigating partnerships in the end to end logistics space, so we can offer a more optimised supply chain experience, from fulfilment, marketing and distribution right through to end delivery. We have the chance to help solve some of our retailers’ biggest logistics issues and consumer demands, whether through logistics hubs for online fulfilment or ensuring we have good coverage of mixed-use properties and precincts.

ISPT’s retail centres are an integral part of the community and serve a key role to support these needs. We’ll continue partnering with retailers to ensure they remain resilient, relevant and successful for many years to come.