January 25, 2023

SOARING interest rates and cost-of-living pressures have failed to stop Territorians from spending big over Christmas.

Figures released by Sentinel Property Group show footraffic at Casuarina Square for the Boxing Day sales were up 8.5 per cent on 2021 and the average spend per customer increased by 8.6 per cent.

Sentinel bought Casuarina Square from GPT Group for $418m last year – one of the Territory’s largest non-agricultural property transactions – and is the Group’s largest acquisition since it was established in 2010.

Sentinel’s chief executive Warren Ebert said the Territory defied household budget pressures to flock to Casuarina in droves.

“Anyone who thinks the economy is going backwards should come to Casuarina Square, which welcomes more than eight million visitors a year,” Mr Ebert said.

“We have been delighted by the feedback from many of our retailers reporting significantly
increased sales on Boxing Day and through the festive season.”

Mr Ebert said regional shopping centres, particularly in Australia’s “hot and steamyfar north” were community focal points.

“When I travelled through Asia I would wonder why so many people were always in shopping centres and it’s the same in Northern Australia as people are escaping the temperatures in the mid-30s and 90 per cent humidity.”

The Sentinel sale delivered Australia’s biggest ever equity raise for an unlisted asset and the company has moved to value-add at the centre since the sale was finalised in late March 2022.

A number of tenancies have been upgraded and plans are in place for other improvements and developments including a long-term vision to establish Casuarina Square into a town centre with student, seniors and worker accommodation.

The company has been working with the Territory government and City of Darwin to relocate the Casuarina bus interchange to an alternative location on Trower Road.

Security at the centre has also been beefed-up with two dogs also patrolling with guards who are focused on lessening the impacts of antisocial behaviour in the actual centre and carparks.

Approvals for the relocation are expected to be completed this year.

“We are currently closing the gates between the centre and the bus interchange for a trial period in order to reduce unruly and disruptive behaviour,” Mr Ebert said.

“Despite these problems, which are common throughout the NT, Casuarina Square is the dominant retail centre in Darwin.”

Sentinel is a Brisbane-based property group focused on commercial and industrial property trusts, particularly in Northern Australia

Camden Smith | NT News

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