Why CBD Environments are not all equal

Many brands view the CBD as a great way to increase brand presence or have flagship stores, due to the perceived high volumes of potential customers located within the CBD. Consumers flock to the CBD for many different reasons, and this is not only because they may live there. This includes consumers frequenting the CBD for work, study, are tourists, or are there for a retail or entertainment experience. However it is important to note that not all sections of the CBD offer equal potential. It really depends on your brand and offering, and who your key target market is, so that a carefully formulated CBD strategy can be planned out.

For example, if your key target market is white collar workers, the best CBD strategy would be to locate in the sections of the CBD with the highest concentrations of working populations. On the other hand, if your key target market is young adults, the best CBD strategy may be to locate near universities, the major train stations, and the entertainment precincts within the CBD (which are typically different sections of the CBD to where the highest levels of working populations are).

For some of our clients that rely heavily on impulse purchasing, locating in the highest foot traffic locations within the CBD is critical. A good measure of this is evaluating the level of transaction activity that is occurring across the different sections of the CBD, and utilising resources such as the Mastercard merchant transaction and sales activity data.

According to the recently released latest edition of Geotech’s Precinct Prospector Report, sections of Park Street, Bathurst Street, and George Street in Sydney CBD top the list in terms of transaction activity, as does Elizabeth and Swanston Streets in Melbourne CBD. Barangaroo in Sydney CBD has also been steadily increasing in transaction and sales activity over the last couple of years, as the area has continued to develop.

On the other hand, some sections of the different CBD’s have experienced significant declines in both transaction and sales activity. This includes the Pyrmont area in the Darling Harbour region on the western outskirts of the Sydney CBD, as well as sections of King William Street (to the north) in Adelaide CBD, both of which have experienced significant declines compared to a year ago.

Sydney CBD


In more recent times, the increasing availability of mobile device data has been a game changer for understanding consumer movements and travel patterns, and has become an invaluable tool for assessing retail environments, including the CBD. As shown by the below image for busy Elizabeth Street in Melbourne CBD, it is now possible to visualise how consumers move once frequenting this section of the CBD, and whether they tend to be more transient or local in nature.

As can be seen, consumer movements 10 to 20 minutes after leaving this Elizabeth Street intersection are fairly concentrated, and a large proportion are travelling north and south along Elizabeth Street.


If you are considering the CBD, or any other retail environment, for your brand or offering Geotech is happy to assist. Contact Jeff Vassel at jeffv@geotechinfo.com.au or by calling (03) 9544 0440.

Precinct Scout visually displays the strength of a precinct on important measures such as transaction and sales activity, which is an invaluable tool for retailers wanting to assess retail precincts.  Click here to find out more https://www.geotechinfo.com.au/precinct-scout