market snapshot 2Q20
COVID-19 is undoubtedly having an impact on Wellington retail, although vacancy rates have held up thus far. CBD vacancy rates increased by 100 bps to 5.1%, yet Southern CBD vacancy reduced substantially to 5.9% from 9.3%. This resulted in an increase of 0.1% in total vacancy over 1H20. Despite this, we foresee more substantial vacancy in 2H20. With the wage subsidy and other government support schemes drawing to a close, we expect fewer tenants to continue to persevere. The retail market is undoubtedly a tough space presently for some.
The Wellington retail sector saw more withdrawals than completions over 1H20. Total stock fell to 109,095 sqm from 110,127 sqm in 2H19. This continues a trend of diminishing numbers of projects completing and exiting the pipeline as observed over recent periods. Wellington’s retail sector faces similar issues to the city’s oﬀice sector around low NBS rated stock. Persistently high construction costs have kept supply bottlenecked, though the sector is unlikely to stagnate completely given the reasonably high levels of stock in the pipeline at various stages of planning and construction.
Given recent global events, Wellington's retail sector has observed a decrease in rents and prime capital values, while incentives have increased over the last quarter. Prime and secondary gross face rents both fell over 2Q20: 5.2% to $2,300 psm and 8.3% to $688 psm respectively. By contrast, yields held firm across the board for another quarter. Going forward, we expect prime assets to be the main focus for investors, with less interest in secondary locations and tenants with poorer covenants. We foresee further downward pressure on rents and some yield sotening.