As the cost of living mounts, Australian consumers are pivoting from upscale dining experiences to more pocket-friendly casual options. JMK Retail, one of Australia’s shopping centre proprietors, documents an upswing in preference for casual dining establishments in its centres across South East Queensland.
Casual dining zones within these centres have recorded an increase of up to 15 per cent in patronage, with families particularly inclining towards such venues for their outings. This transformation is not just about affordability, but also the atmosphere of relaxed, stress-free dining.
JMK Retail’s general manager, Vicki Leavy remarked, “Our centres, scattered across South East Queensland, are witnessing a substantial rise in the footfall in casual dining outlets. While winters usually signify a subdued phase for hospitality, this season has defied the norm with surprisingly robust numbers.”
Notably, Aromas Café in Toowoomba’s High Street Shopping Centre, operated by JMK Retail, is bustling with activity this winter. Yubee Khatri, Aromas Café’s co-owner, shared, “We’ve noticed a spike in the dinner crowd. Patrons particularly favour our curry dishes, which we serve with rice and house-made Turkish bread, providing a wholesome meal at a reasonable cost.”
The popularity surge isn’t limited to Aromas Café. Pattysmiths, a premium burger joint in Yamanto Central, is observing heightened dinner footfall, especially during weekends. Harpreet Singh, the owner of Pattysmiths at Yamanto Central, noted, “From mid-week onwards, there’s a marked rise in families opting for dinner at our venue.”
According to Leavy, the allure of casual dining zones isn’t solely anchored to affordability. She emphasized other perks, like complimentary parking, that come with dining in shopping centres. “With economic headwinds such as rising interest rates and living costs, households are revisiting their dining habits. Casual dining zones have always been integral to our strategy at JMK Retail. Now, given the economic milieu, these precincts are gaining prominence.”
Leavy also pinpointed the evolution of casual dining zones into family entertainment hubs. “Beyond affordability, these precincts are emerging as venues for family outings in congenial settings. Across our portfolio, casual dining zones are noting a 10 to 15 per cent rise in customer volume, with a significant spike in family gatherings.”
This development underscores the transformation of community-based shopping centres into holistic lifestyle hubs, enriching local communities with a medley of shopping, wellness, and dining experiences.
About JMK Retail
JMK Retail, a stalwart in Australia’s shopping centre landscape, boasts a diverse portfolio of properties spread across South East Queensland. Its centres, anchored by renowned retail chains, offer a spectrum of services, from traditional retail and dining to health and wellness. JMK Retail pioneered suburban dining in Toowoomba, Queensland in 1997. For more, visit JMK Retail.