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Economic Significance of Mainstreets

Last week I attended the Mainstreet Australia conference at the inspiring Footscray Community Arts Centre. The conference focus was around Energising main streets through People, Program, Planning and Placemaking.

It was fantastic to connect with like-minded individuals committed to improving the function and opportunities for main streets across Australia. The conference was attended by small business owners, trader associations, councils and consultants and was a true exchange of ideas.

Being a bit of a statistics nerd, I particularly enjoyed Sean Stephens presentation from Essential Economics on the economic importance of main streets. Sean presented a snapshot of the 12-month project commissioned by Mainstreet Australia. The full report will be available for purchase from Main Street Australia’s website.

It is sometimes easy to forget the social and economic significance of main streets. Sean highlighted that over 40% of Victoria’s retail floor space is located in main streets, and many of our bigger brands started life in a main street.

Brands like:

  • Grill’d Healthy Burgers started life in Hawthorn
  • Bakers Delights opened its first store in Hawthorn in 1980 and 30 years later has grown to over 700 stores and serves 2 million customers annually
  • JB Hi Fi opened its first store in Keilor

I wonder what will be the next big brand to hit out streets that started life on our main streets… I think there’s room in the market for a few more La Belle Miette (Hardware Lane, Melbourne CBD) to  open up. Mmmmm Macaroons…..

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