Pitt Street Mall retailers will attract increased visitors through free access to the popular pedestrian area to showcase their wares and host shopping events under a City of Sydney plan to support businesses and create a livelier city centre.
The three-year long retail activation program follows a 12-month trial, which saw retailers host a number of successful promotional events, including the opening of a new beauty shop that attracted more than 3,000 people and delivered global media coverage.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said a thriving retail sector was crucial to Sydney’s economy and the City was supporting businesses through events to attract more people to the city centre, particularly during the light rail construction.
“The bricks-and-mortar retail sector has been impacted by the growing popularity of online shopping,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Now, more than ever, retailers need to provide exciting shopping experiences and events that attract customers and encourage them to visit their stores.
“By not applying an event fee for the public areas in Pitt Street Mall, retailers can more easily host high-quality shopping events to attract people into the area.
“The extension of this program for three years will also coincide with the light rail construction.”
More than 120 businesses took part in five major events hosted during the free 12-month trial period of the Pitt Street Mall retail activation program during 2014–15.
In December last year the opening of beauty shop Sephora attracted 3,000 people into the mall – 30 who camped overnight – with entertainment and a well-developed marketing plan.
One media outlet said the Sydney Sephora opening event “smashed global records and made it one of the most successful launches for the brand, ever”. The launch was also covered by the UK’s Daily Mail.
Similarly, the Myer Christmas launch in November last year attracted 1,000 shoppers who were entertained by singer Guy Sebastian.
Seventy-five businesses took part in the Strand Arcade’s Evening with Our Designers in August, which celebrated the makers, designers and craftspeople behind the retail brands in the arcade and resulted in over $25,000 in sales in the first 90 minutes
The event was attended by 300 media representatives and included an elaborately decorated marquee in the mall, entertainment and special offers.
Strand Arcade representatives advised the City that evening events such as this had a particularly strong return for food and beverage businesses.
Forty-three businesses with a social media reach of over 4 million took part in Westfield’s Christmas in July food and dining promotion, held over two weeks this year.
Pitt Street Mall was decorated with fresh pine trees for the event, which increased foot traffic by more than four per cent. Some retailers reported a 25 per cent growth in sales across the month.
Westfield Sydney’s Senior Marketing Manager, Rosalind Lill-Lusby said they were always looking for ways to “delight our shoppers with world class experiences”.
“This year we invited Sydney to celebrate Christmas in July with us by transforming the city’s most famous shopping strip into a traditional pine forest,” Ms Lill-Lusby said.
“There were culinary delights from over 40 of our retailers sampled throughout the week, enabling them to attract new customers.
“This occasion would not have been possible if not for the City of Sydney’s Retail Activation Program and we hope continue our support in new activations that drive footfall to Pitt Street Mall the entire retail precinct can benefit from.”
Margy Osmond, Chair of the City’s Retail Advisory Panel and chief executive of Tourism & Transport Forum said the City had put “real and consistent effort” into supporting retailers in central Sydney.
“The Retail Activation Program in Pitt Street Mall is an example of the City’s approach to innovation and willingness to work with the businesses that give the CBD its shopping ‘buzz’,” Ms Osmond said.
“The Retail Advisory Panel has been very pleased to see the opportunities and partnership born out of the Pitt Street project and would be very keen to see it extended to build on that good work and goodwill.
“It is all about the shopper and visitor experience, and programs like the Pitt Street activation add something fresh and engaging to the city and give locals and visitors more reasons to shop, stay and spend in the Sydney CBD.”
The existing use of the mall for other corporate and community events, busking and food trucks continued throughout the free Pitt Street Mall business trial period without impact.
The City will continue to waive event fees for charitable and not-for-profit enterprises.