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Brisbane CBD on the comeback trail but still far from business as usual

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More evidence is emerging of the Brisbane CBD’s slow recovery from the worst effects of pandemic lockdowns, with a new report showing that the city is wooing back office workers and shoppers.

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The Committee for Brisbane’s regular Inner City Vitality report found the CBD improved it performance in relation to commercial property occupancy rates, foot traffic and business growth compared with the depths of Covid two years ago.

However, the report, released on Thursday, found the city was still struggling to achieve pre-Covid activity levels.

Inner city suburbs like Fortitude Valley were faring better, with the James street retail precinct reporting very low vacancy rate and a large pipeline of planned new developments, the report said.

Another key finding that should please Queen St Mall businesses was the return of retail foot traffic, with the report citing CBRE research showing foot traffic recovering in recent months to nearly 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

However, it was a different story with occupancies.

“CBD vacancy rates continue to struggle – CBRE estimates an overall vacancy rate of 18.9 per cent up approximately 6.2 percentage points on the previous year, attributable to floods and the desire to be at ground level and easy access for passing traffic,” the report said.

Committee for Brisbane chief executive Barton Green said the report, the fifth in a series, was a “unique longitudinal analysis of the inner city as a place of work and business, and a place to live, shop and visit”.

“It highlights a bounce-back effect amongst residents, visitors, and businesses with a sense of urgency for enjoying experiences within the tourism, and education and residential sectors,” he said.

“And while retail and office sectors are yet to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels, they are showing some signs of renewal and repair.”

 

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