RECENT reports referring to Rokeby Road Subiaco and Claremont Quarter taking business from Fremantle is surely another case of ‘passing the buck’, or blame-shifting. How does that relate to Fremantle’s trading woes?
Try tootling up to Claremont for a little disposable income splashing-out and you will find it’s not a journey you would want to make more than occasionally; it’s an excursion and the traffic situation is no encouragement. Subiaco is even further away.
Alternatively, the cause of the city’s woes, according to one source is the “Dowson Effect”. They may as well call it the (Les) “Lauder Effect” or the “Fremantle Society Effect” – the power of a lot of people. Suddenly, it’s all over the media that Fremantle is in trouble and everyone is deflecting responsibility and running for cover.
Warnings have been sounded for years; check back on local papers. But there may be a double dichotomy here, are we discussing sins of commission or of omission and is Fremantle losing businesses, or business (customers), or is it all of the above?
Perhaps that explains why Claremont and Subiaco are being brought into the argument; that is, the claim they may be taking customers from Fremantle. Unlikely. At the risk of trivializing a serious matter, that’s a chicken and egg situation. That they may be taking some businesses away is possible, but ‘why’ is the core of the matter.
The answer has to be that fewer customers are being attracted to central Fremantle for dry goods while the flagship food and beverage areas are holding in, but are close to the line and there have been significant closures recently.
While customer numbers for them still look good superficially, the average spend is way down – as much as half. A new take-away is likely to add to the pressure. Many businesses are cutting back while putting their hopes on the forthcoming Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships.
Back to Subiaco and Claremont. Their woes have been publicly expressed in newspaper spreads in recent weeks. A raw expression of this is in their shop windows. The red ‘sale’ signs are everywhere: 50% off is common and in some cases, as much as 70%. Not much to envy there. Yes, new Claremont quarter, that glamorous concourse is still fully tenanted, but wait ’til rent review time.
Meanwhile, on Bay View Terrace itself, there are seven vacant street-level premises and twelve nearby. Rokeby Road has five, with ten adjacent, not including the long-closed Subiaco Pavilion or the rows upon rows, at very least 30, ‘for lease’ signs in immediate surrounding buildings. Subiaco’s parking situation has always been a problem and has to be controlled with metering, but there is little problem at Claremont where a vast concourse of free parking provides up to three hours at the Quarter, with more provided by private operators and council. That council is to spend $3.5 million on upgrading the shopping strip. Perhaps, instead of blaming, Fremantle should copy them?