Image: The Property Tribune.
  • Perth and Melbourne were the only cities to see figures rise
  • Most cities had occupancy rates hold steady
  • Canberra saw occupancy figures dip from 60% to 53%

The latest office occupancy data from the Property Council of Australia (PCA) shows only Perth and Melbourne experienced a small rise in office occupancies for the latest reporting period, with most other cities remaining steady and the ACT reporting declines.

Market Melbourne
Canberra Sydney
Perth CBD Adelaide
Jul-20 20% 49% 36% 48% 67% 62%
Aug-20 8% 53% 33% 50% 61% 68%
Sep-20 11% 51% 39% 58% 70% 74%
Oct-20 8% 70% 44% 68% 85% 81%
Nov-20 14% 72% 50% 68% 85% 76%
Jan-21 34% 76% 50% 70% 74% 77%
Feb-21 27% 72% 54% 72% 72% 77%
Mar-21 39% 72% 56% 69% 79% 79%
Apr-21 45% 70% 65% 70% 78% 78%
May-21 45% 71% 68% 71% 77% 78%
Jun-21 26% 72% 67% 71% 76% 80%
Jul-21 12% 73% 7% 67% 78% 15%
Aug-21 7% 8% 4% 60% 77% 65%
Sep-21 6% 8% 4% 51% 76% 64%
Oct-21 4% 7% 8% 57% 79% 64%
Nov-21 12% 17% 23% 63% 77% 73%
Jan-22 4% 7% 7% 13% 66% 11%
Feb-22 15% 21% 18% 41% 55% 47%
Mar-22 32% 45% 41% 48% 45% 61%
Apr-22 36% 39% 42% 51% 50% 59%
May-22 48% 60% 55% 64% 63% 71%
Jun-22 49% 53% 55% 64% 65% 71%

Source: Property Council of Australia.

Perth saw office occupancies rise from 63% to 65%, with Melbourne seeing a 1 percentage point rise to 49%. The ACT saw office occupancies decline from 60% to 53%.

The survey was conducted in the field between 23 and 30 June and coincided with the rise in Covid and flu figures around the country.

Recovery stalls

While occupancy rates have been recovering, several factors across have put a handbrake on further recovery.

“The continued spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses, extremely wet weather on the east coast, combined with industrial action in NSW have all clearly hampered workers being able to get into their CBD workplaces,” said Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison.

“Before the Delta strain hit in the middle of last year we saw a real resurgence in the return to office and we would expect occupancy to lift again once the current unfavourable impacts subside.”

“I don’t think these figures are a reflection of workers not wanting to be in the office, but rather a reflection of people being forced to stay home for a range of reasons, whether it be to care for sick kids, rest themselves or to avoid dangerous weather.”

Ken Morrison, Property Council Chief Executive

The latest office occupancy survey found the preference for greater flexibility including
working from home was the major driver of occupancy levels, while 79 per cent of
respondents (up from 63 per cent in May) believe it will take 3 months or more for occupancy levels to materially increase.

To note: The Property Council said previous office occupancy data has been presented as a percentage of overall office space. It has now changed to presenting as a percentage of the pre-Covid rate of office occupancy which is estimated at 90%.

CBD VIP campaign in WA

Property Council WA Executive Director Sandra Brewer said the increase in Perth office occupancy rates was a welcome sight, particularly following a large dip to 45% in March this year when the city was at the height of restrictions and the Omicron outbreak.

“Campaigns which have focused on increasing activity in the CBD, such as the Property
Council’s CBD VIP, which launched in May and saw the state and local government
combine with private property owners to incentivise CBD visitation, the City of Perth’s
Bounce Back program and State government grants, have played a vital part in driving people back into the CBD,” said Ms Brewer

“Bringing the Perth CBD to levels of pre-pandemic vibrancy will require more than one or two campaigns, but what CBD VIP and other programs have demonstrated is that all CBD stakeholders are willing to play their part in revitalising the CBD.”

Across Australia, the Property Council has run several CBD activation campaigns including Fridays in the City in Brisbane, Fab Friday and FOMO Friday both in Melbourne.

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