Lateral thinking and empathy: two vital ingredients in supporting retail in challenging times

February 9, 2021

The word “unprecedented” has been used so frequently over the past twelve months that it’s become a generic descriptor for a broad range of challenges facing a diverse spectrum of businesses.

There’s no doubt the past twelve months or so have been a difficult time for many industries, with retail, travel and hospitality some of the most significantly impacted. However, government restrictions and ongoing uncertainty soon identified which businesses were able to pivot and adapt to changing market conditions, and which were restrained by systemic inflexibility.

Agility and responsiveness are in 151 Property’s DNA, and these attributes were critical in our ability to move quickly in finding innovative ways to counter the significant impacts of COVID-19 in our retail centres and precincts.

One example was the introduction and execution of a national pop-up strategy, which delivered the dual benefit of replacing a significant proportion of  income lost from exiting tenants, while providing opportunities for smaller and niche local traders to be exposed to larger customer audiences in a highly flexible and sustainable environment.

The opportunity to play a role in incubating and supporting local start-ups and smaller businesses during an extraordinarily difficult time was a demonstration of our commitment to supporting and nurturing the communities in which we operate. The flow-on effect of providing a highly-flexible and affordable opportunity  to local businesses is profound. It nurtures community vibrancy and helps sustain local business owners and their families.

Another example was the way in which the organisation managed relationships with retailers, many of whom were experiencing significant distress at the peak of the pandemic. The Government’s Code of Conduct acted very much as a base to all negotiations, however approaching each situation with empathy and a spirit of mutual understanding enabled the agreement of financial support measures and initiatives for those experiencing significant hardship.

Our willingness to ensure our customers want to deal with us, across a range of non-discretionary businesses and brands, has been a critical factor in enabling us to maintain dynamic and convenient retail environments for our customers, while driving increased foot traffic and sales. As the market continues to adjust, 151 Property remains absolutely focussed on maintaining market-leading agility and innovation to help our customers and business partners thrive.