Source: Jordan from Unsplash.
  • NAB's latest survey provides insight into what is needed for CBD's to be revitalised
  • 26% of respondents said nothing would encourage them to visit the CBD more often
  • Nationally, free or subsidised parking was the main drawcard

Since COVID-19 hit Australia, there has been a profound shift in the purchasing and visitation behaviours of Australians.

With social distancing requirements, trading restrictions, job losses and large numbers of people working from home, it should come as no surprise that our CBD’s have suffered.

Despite spending in our CBD’s recording an improvement, with Perth experiencing the strongest rebound, they still have a long way to go in the recovery.

Revitalising CBD’s is vital for the livelihoods of many small businesses that rely on foot traffic. Vibrancy requires a mix of commercial, residential, government and cultural buildings co-existing.

The Property Tribune has reported on the efforts to revive our CBD’s.

The Victorian Government currently has a plan for the development of Melbourne’s 20-minute neighbourhoods, a concept which aims to improves liveability by giving people access to all their daily needs – like shopping centres, public transport, employment opportunities, community gardens etc – all within a 20-minute walk from home.

The Property Council of Australia (PCA) recently proposed a 5-point plan to activate the Sydney CBD, including a global-focussed media pitch through imagery for business, tourism, and capital attraction – to showcase the city’s offerings.

To gather further insight into what is needed to revitalise our CBD’s, NAB released a Consumer Insight Report exploring the extent to which consumers have changed visitation to their capital city CBD, and if so, why are they visiting less often and what would encourage them to return.

Based on survey responses from around 2,000 Australians conducted over the period between March 10-23, here were the key points:

  • Around 6 in 10 Australians have either stopped visiting their CBD or are visiting less.
  • Melbourne is the most impacted city (over 7 in 10 have stopped visiting), followed by Sydney.
  • Top reasons for stopped visiting/visiting less:
    • 50% have no reason to do so.
    • 32% due to social distancing/fear of COVID-19.
    • 31% due to preference of local shopping and eating.
    • 25% due to expensive parking, not wanting to use public transport.
    • 20% due to too many closed shops or lack of life/vibrancy.
  • What would encourage people to return (other than work):
    • 30% want free/subsidised car parking.
    • 13% want more security/better safety.
    • 12% want fewer walkways/fewer cars.
    • 11% want COVID-safer alfresco dining options.
    • 10% want more live music/entertainment.
  • 26% said nothing would encourage them to visit the CBD more often.
  • Overall, a thriving/vibrant CBD is moderately important to Australians: 63.1 points out of a possible 100.


The full report, NAB Consumer Insight Report: Impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s CBD’s & What Would Encourage Us to Visit More Often?, is available online.

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