Melbourne office down
Due to prolonged lockdowns, employers and employees have largely remained absent from the Melbourne CBD. Image – Canva.
  • Office occupancy has plunged to 12% in Melbourne thanks to prolonged lockdowns
  • Melbourne has recorded the worst occupancy rates since the pandemic began, bar Sydney
  • Melbourne's occupancies haven't been this low since the early 1990s

A Property Council of Australia (PCA) survey of office occupancy in Melbourne’s CBD has revealed office occupancies have plunged to just 12% – the lowest level since the end of the 112-day lockdown last year.

This is down from 26% (June) and is more bad news for central retail, hospitality and other businesses that rely on the presence of office workers in the CBD.

Excluding Sydney, where office occupancy dropped to 6% due to protracted lockdowns, Melbourne’s levels have remained below the rest of the capital cities since the pandemic began.

Victorian Executive Director of the Property Council, Danni Hunter, noted that after climbing back to 45% of pre-Covid levels in April, the office occupancy has continued to go backwards as Victoria deals with repeated lockdowns, most recently the one that started last week.

“All of the gains of earlier this year have now been lost as workers have again deserted the CBD with no sign of a bounce-back as we endure our third lockdown in as many months,” said Ms Hunter.

Last week, the Property Council released their Office Market Report which showed that vacancy rates in the Melbourne CBD were at a 20-year high with demand the lowest since the “recession we had to have” during the early 1990s.

Ms Hunter believes that until vaccination rates increase, the prospects of more lockdowns are high.

“Clearly our CBD is in crisis and needs urgent attention. We have seen a number of survival plans but we now need a plan for revival,” said Ms Hunter.

“The plan needs to address how we attract people safely back into the CBD, support our iconic retail and hospitality sectors and attract new, long-term investment so Melbourne continues to be a place to live, work and invest.”

Danni Hunter, Property Council

The Property Council has called for various stakeholders such as the Victorian Government, City of Melbourne and businesses to join forces to conceive ways to revitalise the CBD.

Previously, the City of Melbourne launched FOMO Fridays to lure CBD workers into the city for end-of-week celebrations.

“We need to bring together all the key stakeholders including the Victorian Government, City of Melbourne and business to look at innovative ways we can revitalise our CBD.

“We’ve seen a continued population drift away from Melbourne to regional areas and other states like Queensland and we need to act now to prevent further drift,” concluded Ms Hunter.

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