Chermside Drive-In Shopping Centre in Brisbane was the first Australian shopping mall. It was opened on 31 May 1957 by the then Premier of Queensland, Vince Gair. Chermside initially contained an Allan & Stark department store (later bought by Myer), a BCC supermarket and 24 specialty stores. It had its own car park with space for 650 cars and covered 28 acres. The centre was bought by Westfield in 1996.
Chermside was described by a local newspaper as “an island of shopping in a lake of parking”. It was a response to the increasing affordability of cars for the average Australian family. This first Australian shopping mall was soon followed by similar centres in Sydney and Melbourne and, eventually, throughout Australia.
According to the Shopping Centre Council of Australia, on average, around 22 shopping centres have opened each year in Australia since 1957 and many existing shopping centres have expanded through redevelopments. Westfield Chermside has expanded over the past 60 plus years to include two department stores; three discount department stores; two supermarkets; a 16-screen cinema; and a major food court. The centre now provides parking for more than 7200 cars.
The SCCA website cites a 2018 industry survey that identified 1,630 shopping centres in Australia which exceeded 1,000 square metres of gross lettable area. These were classified as follows:
- 78 Regional shopping centres (i.e. those that include at least one department store);
- 291 Sub Regional centres (i.e. those that include at least one discount department store as the major anchor tenant);
- 1,120 Neighbourhood or supermarket-based shopping centres (i.e. those that include at least one supermarket as the major anchor tenant); and
- 96 CBD centres.
Located in these shopping centres are more than 65,000 speciality shops including a wide range of food outlets. Industry figures for January 2020 showed a 3.7% growth in shopping centre food retailing over the past 12 months, as well as a 3.9% increase in turnover for mall-based cafes restaurants and take-away food services.