Empty shopfronts have become a common sight around Brisbane, sparking concerns of a retail downturn. Experts say the increasing vacancy rate represents a significant change in the retail world.

James Kleeman reports.


Brisbane’s small business owners are finding it tough, with new figures revealing up to one in every five shops is sitting empty.

Fashion and grocery retailers are struggling in a rapidly evolving environment.

Gary Mortimer, QUT Business School: “i think what we’re seeing is retail changing.”

Experts say vacancy rates are increasing, but only in certain areas.

Gary Mortimer, QUT Business School: “Some of the older centres, Wintergarden seems to have a high vacancy rate, the mid-tier centres like Brookside and Toombul also some high-vacancy rates as well.”

The National Retail Association says shop owners need to make their mark quickly to avoid going bust.

Jo Maxwell, National Retail Association: “What we find is, retailers really need to stand out from the crowd – in order to be successful, they need to have a different offering.”

Experts say it’s a shift in the way we’re shopping, with the majority of people now visiting larger shopping centres, that leaves smaller retailers struggling.

Gary Mortimer, QUT Business School: “We’re seeing people move into those big shopping centres because it’s simply an area where you can get a meal, go to the movies and do some shopping if you want it’s becoming more of an experience than simply about provisioning.”

And with Christmas on the way, experts say small retailers face little reprieve.

James Kleeman, QUT News.