Vacancy rates in Shepparton’s central business district have dipped below 10 per cent to its lowest point in five years, signalling a pulse for the city’s retail sector.
More cafes and lunch spots can be largely thanked for the boost, Greater Shepparton City Council said, conceding there was still plenty of work to be done improving circulation, opening hours and removing B-double trucks from the city.
New entries into the retail market tended to be food and drink spots, particularly on Fryers St, which the council has been pushing as a dining epicentre, council’s sustainable development director Johann Rajaratnam said.
The May quarter results marked the lowest recorded vacant shop result since data started being collected in 2012.
Vacancy rates had been recorded around 16 per cent in 2012 and had since embarked on a slow and steady descent to about 10 per cent.
‘‘Part of it is market forces outside council control... greater confidence in the business sector and council recognising we want to do something in the mall,’’ Mr Rajaratnam said.
‘‘I’m hoping through a death by 1000 cuts, the CBD gets up and running again.
‘‘It’s showing us a bit of a pulse.’’
Council can only do so much though, including improving cleanliness and access issues, while vendors could stretch out opening hours to help, he said.
Mr Rajaratnam cited the purpose of the commercial activity centres strategy as aiming to protect the CBD and allowing for growth across the entire city, while ensuring the CBD remained the apex of retail growth.
The broader goal was creating a more European CBD environment, he said, with plenty of places to sit, and low traffic in a high-density, walkable CBD.
‘‘We’re hopeful it continues. We’re keen to see the CBD humming again,’’ he said.