Westfield effect not what it seems

On the face of it, one would assume the existence of a major shopping mall in a suburb would be a boon for other businesses in the area. Yet new data reveals that notion not to be so.

Research by Bob Schwartz, chief economist at business software services firm Pitney Bowes, found that in the Sydney suburbs of Chatswood, Bondi Junction and Castle Hill – all home to some of Sydney’s biggest shopping malls – the daytime populations can swell to 270,000; more than five times their usual size.

Most notably for small business, Sydney’s biggest daytime population hotspots do not necessarily correlate to the economic output. According to Schwartz, the knock-on effects from a big shopping centre were not found to be substantial for the rest of the local area.

“Any large regional mall is essentially a self-contained city. The whole rationale for their existence is to offer shoppers a wide variety of just about anything they might like. Equally, planning regulations are such that competing retail projects are just not allowed to be built. In an area such as Penrith, traders on the streets outside of the mall do not trade nearly as well as those who are inside,” Schwartz said.

Macquarie Park for example, which is host to Sydney’s third-biggest local economy ranked a paltry 19th for daytime population. North Sydney was ranked second for economic output but sixth for daytime population and Pyrmont-Ultimo came in fifth for economic output but 22nd for daytime population.

Related Stories