Numbers game in CBD


New survey of Queenstown pedestrian counts throws up variances.







Counting pedestrians in Queenstown’s CBD might seem a boring exercise but a property marketer claims it’s a valuable tool.

Colliers International, which has just released its 2009 pedestrian count, says it’s a guide for both landlords and current or would-be tenants.

“We believe there is some correlation between the pedestrian flows to the rents paid, although not directly relevant to particular sites,” says leasing agent Jason Steed.

Colliers has taken its head count on the second Wednesday in April for the past five years, increasing from 22 to 29 tally points – two points weren’t counted this year due to construction activity.

Counts are taken for 30 minutes at 10am, 3pm and 8pm.

This year’s results are similar to 2008.

For the fourth year running, “Central Camp Street” outside McCafe has the most foot traffic, doubtless because it’s by the town’s major bus stop and at the entrance to the busiest mall, O’Connells.

Second again is “West Rees St” by Kapa Design Gallery, but this year’s count is inflated because the footpath on the opposite side of Rees St was closed due to The Mountaineer rebuild.

Two years ago West Rees St placed just 16th.

“Central Rees St” by the BNZ and “Central Shotover St” by Outside Sports are again third and fourth respectively.

Fifth, but also influenced by the close of the opposite footpath due to construction, is “East Camp St” outside Just Jeans – sixth last year but 10th in 2007.

Even where construction’s not a factor, there are some big variances on either side of a street.

Most striking is that the sunnier sides of The Mall, Beach and Shotover Sts all have higher pedestrian counts than their shadier opposite numbers.

“Central Mall”, outside Amazon, places sixth this year, while Bendon, right opposite, ranks 12th.

Steed confirms rentals are a bit higher on the sunnier side.

“But there just hasn’t been those [leasing] deals on the shady side to know if people would pay the same rent to be there.”

The biggest variances occur on Camp and Rees Sts.

The Salvation Army, directly opposite top ranking McCafe in Camp St, is a lowly 17th – while “Central Rees St” outside Pog Mahones is 22 places lower than third-placed BNZ opposite.

Colliers doesn’t give out head counts but says the highest foot-traffic locations average almost seven times more
pedestrians than the lowest-ranked sites. “Eastern Camp St” and Earl St perform worst, but that could change once the new Post Office building opens later this year.

Although McCafe has the highest pedestrian flow, it doesn’t have the CBD’s highest rental – it’s understood corner sites like Starbucks pay more.

However, corner sites aren’t counted.

“My gut feeling is you don’t do corners because you don’t know where someone’s going,” Steed says.

Retailers also have to factor in different types of pedestrians in the head counts, he says – lower Shotover St, for example, attracts a lot of backpackers.

“The benefit of the high-profile areas is they generally capture most of the available market,” Colliers states.

Steed confirms there remains good demand for high-profile space, though rents are down from $1500 per square metre to $1000-$1200 plus GST and outgoings.

Steed: “It was a very short timeframe when that $1500 was hit.”