Shop vacancy rate at all-time low

Moonee Valley City Council in metropolitan Victoria is implementing a range of initiatives to achieve one of the lowest shop vacancy rates in the state.

A key shopping strip in Moonee Valley is outperforming some of Melbourne’s best, thanks to the strong working relationship between Moonee Valley City Council and traders, who have introduced a number of projects to reduce shop vacancies and support small business.

Of Melbourne’s 10 key retail strips, Puckle Street in Moonee Ponds has the third lowest vacancy rate across the city, falling from 6.2 percent in 2012 to 4.1 percent in 2016, according to results released by Savills Research.

Moonee Valley Mayor, Andrea Surace, said Council has been active in encouraging investment across the whole of Moonee Valley, such as its shop window activation project, which has transformed vacant shops with colourful graphic dioramas that encourage people to think about different ways the retail spaces could be used.

“It is initiatives such as our Moonee Valley Grants Program for local businesses, our Discover Moonee Valley videos, and Moonee Ponds Art Box Project that have placed us ahead of popular shopping strips including Toorak Road, Chapel Street and Bridge Road,” said Mayor Surace.

The shop window activation project is a free trial program that began in February this year and involved Council reaching out to real estate agents representing property owners of long-term vacant shops in Moonee Valley.

The artwork installed in the vacant shop windows will remain in place until the shops are tenanted. Since beginning the trial, nine shops have been involved, giving landlords the opportunity to expose and promote their vacant shops to potential new investors. A participating shop in Mt Alexander Road has already been tenanted after being vacant for 18 months.

Council is undertaking other methods to reduce vacancy rates and encourage investment in Moonee Valley.

Last year the Moonee Valley Grants Program created a grant category for local businesses, providing direct financial support of up to $20,000.

A series of local videos have been created to provide a ‘teaser’ of the diverse and exciting things to see and do in Moonee Valley, not only for locals but also for friends and family who are visiting the area.
Council’s Economic Development unit has also engaged a series of popular bloggers to write, post and share their recommendations of local cafes and restaurants on social media to help increase the digital footprint of Moonee Valley businesses.

The Moonee Ponds Art Box Project engaged internationally renowned artist Darren Munce to transform 12 electricity boxes along Puckle Street into public art pieces. The artwork has contributed to the urban renewal along Puckle Street creating points of interest along the length of the street.  

Council also has a long-term strategy to attract business investment and maximise job density in line with their growing residential base.
Portfolio holder for Economic Development, Councillor Cam Nation, said it was great to see Puckle Street outperforming some of the most well known shopping strips outside the CBD.

“The results of this survey prove that retail strips such as Puckle Street are helping put Moonee Valley on the map,” said Cr Nation.