Free kick for retailers

CBD retail is booming on the back of millions of free tram trips within the CBD last year.

Public Transport Victoria (PTV) has revealed to CBD News that there were more than 19 million tram trips in 2015.

“The majority of this increase comes from trips made in the Free Tram Zone,” said PTV spokesperson Jake McLaughlan.

CBRE retail leasing manager Zelman Ainsworth said retailers were reporting higher turnover and many were attributing this to the introduction on January 1 last year of the free tram service.

“Retail turnover figures have increased in the Melbourne CBD over the last 12 months and, whilst there are a number of factors that can attribute to the increased sales, many retailers have accredited the free trams as a major driver,” Mr Ainsworth said.

He said greater mobility was at the core of upsurge in sales.

“Workers and customers are now able to get around efficiently and conveniently,” he said. “This has allowed retailers to increase their catchment from typically just two city blocks to the entire grid.”

“CBD retailers have increased their turnover figures, whilst offering the CBD customer a broader variety and range of retail to choose from.”

Retailer Gerard Crawford agreed with Mr Ainsworth’s assessment, saying people were finding it much easier to travel further.

Mr Crawford’s Herringbone and Rhodes & Beckett stores are mostly in the Collins St precinct where, he said, it was now possible for workers to frequent the entire length from the “Paris-end” to Docklands during lunch time.

“It’s a much nicer environment for shoppers,” Mr Crawford said. “They can ride the tram, hop off, shop and hop back on again.”

“It’s so much easier and more convenience for them,” he said.

Mr Crawford said Sydney had much to learn from Melbourne’s public transport successes.

Mr McLaughlan said: “The introduction of the Free Tram Zone has seen a significant increase in patronage on trams in the CBD, as more people choose to use trams to travel around the city.”

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