- Coolangatta retail has staged a strong comeback that no one dared hope for last year
- Average net rental rates of $900 to $1150 per square metre are now being acquired
- Alfresco dining has been strong, due to easier Covid restrictions possibilities
A year ago, the Coolangatta retail sector looked set to bear the brunt of the pandemic with borders closed and tourism businesses shuttered.
Fast forward to now and retail has staged a strong comeback that no one dared hope for last year, according to Towers Francis Property.
The Tweed Heads-based commercial agency has secured four beachfront food retailers in recent weeks with average net rental rates of $900 to $1150 per square metre.
Towers Francis Managing Director James Francis said the four Reflections Towers deals were a sign of a far more buoyant local retail market than was originally forecast. He said the influx of domestic tourists to the Coolangatta region had started booming since about midway through last year and showed no signs of letting up.
“What ended up transpiring is all the people from Brisbane and surrounding areas – who would usually holiday in the likes of the Byron Shire, Brunswick, or those Northern New South Wales hotspots – stopped holidaying there because they couldn’t go across the border.”
James Francis, Managing Director, Towers Francis
“Coolangatta has actually seen an upswing in local tourism and that’s when we started doing deals, even when the border was still shut.
“Businesses started doing well again and the local economy picked up with quite a few of these businesses back up and trading at similar levels to pre-COVID.”
The four retail food leases secured for Reflections Towers are Boteku, a new cocktail bar; Garden of Thai and Indian Curry Kingdom restaurants; and Oakberry Acai, a national Acai bowl franchise. There is only one retail vacancy in the Towers available for sale or lease at present, Mr Francis said.
He said demand from food retailers was robust for properties with alfresco dining areas with street retail shops also being favoured over shopping centres. Alfresco areas in particular are becoming increasingly valuable to food retailers because of the increased patron limits allowed under social distancing rules, he said.
“We’ve actually seen alfresco dining areas increase in value to those food retailer tenants because it’s the new COVID-safe way. They can fit more people outside, and it’s what diners are more comfortable with in our ‘new normal’,” Mr Francis said.
Over the Easter holidays, Coolangatta food retailers are expecting a bumper period, which is a far cry from the situation last year.
“All the shops were shuttered, there was doom and gloom thinking, and there was a lot of fear about what lay ahead for all of us,” he said.
“For those of us that are locals, like me, we really can’t believe how well the local economy has recovered, it’s a testament to the local resilience and people should be commended. It’s good news for everyone in Coolangatta and something we are not taking for granted.”