Why is it that often older “sh#tier” presenting retail precincts and streets do so much better than brand new “architecturally designed” retail precincts?

The success of a retail precinct is influenced by a variety of factors, including design, tenant mix, foot traffic, visual appeal, place management, connectivity, and economic viability. However, one important aspect that contributes to the success of a retail precinct is diversity and eclecticism.

Many new retail precincts tend to feel corporate and contrived. The design team have tried to design every inch and touch point of experience. These new retail precincts often lack the sense of ownership and personality that comes from the community and the individual retailers. To create a successful inner urban retail precinct, it’s important for the design team to “let go of some control” and allow traders and the community to contribute more to the place experience. This can result in a space that feels like it has evolved more organically. It feels more authentic, leading to increased visitation and retail spend.

Elements that may contribute to a more authentic ground plane experience could include:
retailer owned and managed pot plants vs concrete planter beds, moveable furniture selected by the retailer vs fixed furniture selected by the design team, a diverse range of retractable canvas awnings vs fixed awnings, and diversified shopfronts with less glass are more likely to engender a better emotional response from the community driving increased visitation, retail spend and ultimately property values

Overall, creating a successful retail precinct requires a delicate balance between planning and curation, allowing for both the design team’s input and the essential input from trader ownership and creativity.