When you look at any shopping centre the location factors will have significant impact on customer sentiment and trade of the tenants. Property Investors & Property managers should look at these factors of location when considering a property and how to take it forward.
- Access to the area from surrounding highways needs to be functional and direct. Essentially the shoppers to the property should be able to access from a number of directions without geographical barriers. Look at the layout of freeways, highways, and secondary roads to see how they integrate with the property during the periods of busiest trade. If you can find any barriers or problems with road access, then work with the local community or planning authority to change them.
- The size and functionality of the car park is one of the first things that impacts customer sentiment. Shoppers like to get into the property easily, park their motor vehicles quickly, and then move to the shopping area safely. Check out this process for yourself just to see what experiences the shoppers get.
- Car park signage, illumination, traffic flow, foot traffic, and safety all should be addressed so that people to the property can move with ease and comfort.
- Undercover car parking is a preference in many shopping centres today. Open air Car Parks can be converted to covered parking through the addition of awnings. This becomes a cost to the landlord; however it is underpinned through the increased customer visitations and sustained levels of trade. Failure to recognise the impact of car park usage in property design will soon see your competitor’s properties taking greater market share of the shopping community.
- Public Transport to your car park and to the shopping centre should be encouraged and supported. Property developers and property managers should integrate with the local planning authority to attract and secure different types of public transport.
- The surrounds of the property should be well maintained, safe, clean and tidy. This is highly important when it comes to Retail Property. The customer and the community move through the building surrounds and gardens as part of property access. Neglected common areas and gardens soon impact in sales and trade figures. This then has flow through to the rental for the property.
- Every property will have some form of competition in the local precinct. The shopping centre manager should check out the other properties that impact the subject property. What you’re looking for is variations in trade, the levels of trade, the type of shopper, the levels of rental, and the types of tenancies. It is surprising how much information you can get from other tenants in other properties simply by asking the questions.
- Every Retail Property should maintain records of customer access through the various entrance doorways or common area corridors. You can then see where the majority of problems with access can occur. The highest traffic areas must be well maintained to sustain a positive image for the property. Tracking the numbers of people entering the property through various entrance points will also give you seasonal trends of popularity and shopping sentiment. This can be cross referenced to the trading figures of the individual retail tenants. If the property is attracting the people or customers, but the tenant is trading poorly, then you have a problem tenant needing support or education.
- When assessing property performance for customers, it pays to undertake customer surveys on a quarterly basis over an extended weekly training period. This will give you a good customer profile and feedback regards matters that need attention.
- The common areas of the property should make the customer feel comfortable and relaxed. The common areas should encourage shoppers and customers to stay at the property for an extended period of time. This is where tenancy mix and tenant offering becomes important in surrounding the common areas and feeding from those zones. When common areas of the property are neglected it is unfortunately reflected in the customer visitation figures and the sales that are achieved at the tenancy level.
In summary, the locational factors of a Retail Property significantly impact the property performance. Landlords, property managers, and leasing managers should keep the common areas high on the agenda of property presentation expenditure.