Sydney is a consumer city. Because of the relatively high residential density, you don’t need to walk too far to run into a High Street. Further, the economy here is geared to consumption. This is aided by the large visitor and tourist population, but is true for full-time residents as well. Stores are smaller on average than the US, but there appear to be more of them (per capita). So there are successful shopping malls, and not just ‘festival market places’ inside the city, which has been more difficult to execute in the US.
Several things to note:
- Unlike the US, many Australian Malls have grocery stores or “supas”, short for supermarket, notably: Aldi, Coles, Harris Farms, Woolworths, as well as butchers, bakers, fruit-stands, ethnic food specialists, and fishmongers.
- Instead of upmarket department stores, malls have junior department stores (K-Mart, Target, also Woolworths/Big W).
- Woolworths is still an ongoing concern here, and seems to be doing relatively well, at least in the supermarket sector. Things I learned: there is no relation among the various Woolworths internationally. The South African and the namesake Australian chains both separately stole the name of the US F.W. Woolworths in an era where trademarks and intellectual property were less well defended, (see this list for an untangling).
- Target serves the market that K-Mart serves in the US. Like Woolworths, there is no relationship between US Target and Australia’s Target, locals just stole the name, so it appears we are still in the era where trademarks are not internationally defendable. It is owned by Wesfarmers, one of Australia’s largest companies that started as a cooperative to serve farmers in Western Australia (logically enough) and is now listed on the stock exchange.
- K-Mart serves the market that Target does in the US. It is also owned by Wesfarmers. It was originally a joint venture between Coles and the US Kresge (the owner of K Mart), so the name is rightfully theirs.
- Amazon has not yet invaded the market, but is expected to enter this year. This has the retail sector very nervous.
- Food courts are common, and malls have more eating establishments per square meter than the US.
- Prepared (i.e. Restaurant) Food Delivery is huge in Australia, with a number of companies in this sector: Deliveroo, Foodora, Uber Eats, among others. I have not used them. I had thought given the suffix, Deliveroo was an Australian company, but apparently it is an import. Many of the deliverers use bikes.
- Most High Streets are doing well, and most Malls are adjacent to High Streets.
- Some malls are integrated with transit (Bondi Junction, Chatswood, Parramatta), others are nearby, but not fully integrated (Broadway, Ashfield, Liverpool, Queen Victoria Building).
- Some parking ramp/garage space has been converted to shops (Harris Farms, a Whole Foods-like store at lower prices) at Broadway, a Chinese supermarket at Ashfield), as shown in the Figure
. So while the value of store space outweighs the value of car storage space, store space can be expanded into the parking structure, as awkward as that seems (and it is awkward)
- Each bank is in each mall (This is unlike the US, but there are fewer banks here)
- Australia Post is often at the Mall.
- Each cell phone company is in each mall (This is like the US).
- There are still white goods stores in the mall. These have been mostly driven out in the US.
- Malls have more services in general (barbers, locksmiths)
- The malls tend to be more multi-story than the US, especially after considering parking ramps. The Mall of America is only 4 stories. Much smaller malls here go 5 or 6.
- Westfield owns a lot of the malls here. They also have a brightly lit sign on top of the Sydney Tower. They are buying and rebranding malls in the US. I think it best that Malls be named after their community, not have a generic corporate brand, just as Department Stores ought to have a historically local name.
US Malls are traditionally dominated by anchor department stores. In Sydney I have only been to one upmarket department store chain, Myer, (whose parent company at one time owned Coles grocery store, before Myer was sold) which is not in every mall, or even most of them, and it doesn’t seem to be doing so hot. Grace Bros was a former Sydney-based department store chain, acquired by Myer (a Melbourne-based chain) and subsequent rebranded. Unhappiness ensued (shades of Dayton’s / Mashall Fields / Macy’s) Some former Grace Bros sites have been converted to shopping malls with a variety of stores, including notably Bondi Junction and Broadway.
US Malls and planning in general could learn a lot from the arrangement of retail activities in Sydney.
Thus far I have been to the following shopping malls.
- Bondi Junction
- Queen Victoria Building
- Rouse Hill
indicates Westfield managed property.
Now, there is a dispute on Wikipedia about whether shopping centres in Sydney are notable. Many smaller centres are included in the world’s best online encyclopaedia. Yet, the following page was deleted for “non-notability” (a bogus criterion inconsistently applied if there ever was one). Now, I am not saying the perfectly innocuous Ashfield Mall is as notable as George Washington or a third-tier Pokemon character or the latest single of a soon-to-be-forgotten pop star, but thousands of people use it daily both for shopping and as a community centre, it no doubt is recorded in many places like the local newspaper and public documents, and it is easily verified, thus it is notable locally even if it is not so scandalous as to warrant much easily accessed internet newspaper coverage.
Wikipedia deletionists seem to pride themselves in the destruction of work of others and discouraging contributors, with unanimous decisions of 3 or 4 people on a kangaroo court being sufficient to destroy labor, with a process so painfully bureaucratic only those with low value of time are able to pursue it, so I will undermine their deleterious behaviour by putting the page here for posterity. (Wikipedia used to be fun).
Ashfield Mall opened in 1981 on the former Ashfield Town Hall (which was demolished in the 1980s). It included four anchor tenants – Coles, Franklins, Target and Kmart. Ashfield Mall was acquired by Abacus Property in September 1997. Target closed its store in 2006 due to poor sales and Ashfield Mall underwent redevelopment which included the addition of a Woolworths supermarket & addition of specialty shops on the former Target store. In 2013, Ashfield Mall underwent a redevelopment which included a new food court with a contemporary décor that included a sushi bar, enclosed eating area, brighter lighting and an Aldi store which opened on the former Franklins store. The redevelopment was completed in August 2013. Ashfield Mall is currently undergoing a redevelopment which sees buildings of 101 apartments and refurbishment of the main entry into the shopping centre. Stage 2 encompassing the additional 6,500m2 of retail GFA and childcare centre is expected to commence in 2017 and the 67 serviced apartments in late 2017, early 2018.
- “Historypin | Ashfield Town Hall”. http://www.historypin.org. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- “ASHFIELD MALL Project in Ashfield, NSW – Cordell Connect”. http://www.cordellconnect.com.au. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- “New-look Ashfield Mall open soon – Burwood Scene”. 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- “NewsLocal digital edition”. newslocal.newspaperdirect.com. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- “Ashfield Mall”. 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
Ashfield Mall official website