Convenience stores mirror growth

By Jack Hayes

The burgeoning number of convenience stores in the CBD is a visible indication of the city’s massive residential population growth.

After years of being serviced by the “bit players”, the local residential population has finally attracted the retailing attention of the “big boys”.

Woolworths has entered the market in a big way and has rapidly established a new hybrid-type “midi-market” on Bourke, Swanston and Flinders streets and is planning one in Elizabeth St to go head-to-head with the nearby Coles Express.

In 1997 there were only four convenience stores in the CBD. This number has now jumped to almost 100.
CBRE leasing agent Zelman Ainsworth says there is no doubt that the major players now saw the local residents as a lucrative market.

Mr Ainsworth said when Woolworths went into QV about 10 years ago it was unheard of for a supermarket to trade in the CBD.

“Now it’s a top performing store for Woolworths,” he said.

“The dynamic in the city has changed,” he said. “With tens of thousands of people now living in the city, residents are now a market being aggressively contested.”

Mr Ainsworth predicted that convenience store operators would soon follow overseas grocery trends of offering even smaller quantities of products, as their customer typically do more shops a week to minimise clutter in their CBD apartments.

“In the next wave, you will see people offering half a loaf of bread,” Mr Ainsworth said. “It’s becoming a one-day shopping market.”

With an increasing number of Coles and Woolworths “midi” supermarkets popping up, comes the threat of a convenience store duopoly in the CBD.

Should this trend continue, these gigantic companies could force convenience store owners and workers alike out of their jobs.

Residents have been piling into Melbourne’s central business district at a remarkable rate over the past few – a trend that is set to continue for years to come.

The number of residents in the CBD has jumped by more than 2000 in the last two years. According to the City of Melbourne, the population has grown from 29,322 residents in 2013 to a current population of 31,438.

By 2035 the population of the CBD is expected to reach 61,351. This is a 95 per increase on the current population.

Interestingly, with this rapid growth in population, the average number of residents living in an occupied dwelling in the CBD is set to decrease from two residents per dwelling to 1.56 in the longer term.

The trend for single-person dwellings is on the rise in the CBD.

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