5 Factors for Successful Evening Trade in Retail Centres

Strategic masterplanning is a central component of a city’s or shopping centre’s night time economy. With successful application and maintenance of a evening-inclusive masterplan within centres, developments or other mixed-use sites, there is major potential to maximise sales and subsequently, optimise rental rates. This makes evening trade a component of the shopping and hospitality experience that councils, developers and retail masterplanners should consider implementing in the planning stages of their development as there is a captive audience in today’s world who are seeking ways to enjoy their time outside the home across all day parts. So, what are the key elements that are required to developing the experience and food and hospitality offer to create successful night time trade? 

Whilst the evening trade in Australia is still in it’s growth stage, Future Food’s international projects have shown us how night time trading works in cities across the globe. This has allowed us to define the core factors that remain consistent to the success of the evening food and hospitality trade regardless of diversity in culture and climate. These core factors are: 

  1. Hospitality 
  2. Security and Safety 
  3. Diversity in Menus 
  4. Entertainment 
  5. Experience
Melbourne's CBD shopping mall on Bourke Street  image via Trip Savvy

Melbourne's CBD shopping mall on Bourke Street image via Trip Savvy



Hospitality is the ability to make people feel good, to be happy and to enjoy the space they are sharing with family, friends or colleagues. This basic premise needs to be supported by quality food and entertainment and additional recreational activities such as leisure shopping, activities, water features, valet parking, free entertainment, family friendly, vistas and views. 


Security and Safety

Trading into the evening does raise a number of questions in regards to safety and security. Whilst evening trade does not differ drastically from day time trading, a greater emphasis does need to be placed on key motivational factors including personal safety, taxi transport, car parking, security guards, CCTV, people presence and the general environment. 



People have an expectation when it comes to night time hospitality products. They want menu diversity that comes with high service standards, a dining ‘experience’, varying pricing and multiple options of cuisines. The questions of ‘who are our customers and what do they want?’ must be asked to establish the main user groups and their need-states when it comes to food and drink options. From this, offerings can be diversified and differentiated to meet everyone’s expectations. 



When it comes to building customer visitation time, precincts are now turning to entertainment elements from street shows to live performances and al fresco dining to pop-up retail shops. The anchor of the evening trade activation is food and beverage however, the entertainment that comes with it provides further energy and lifts the overall experience of the precinct. 



The experience of evening economy includes aspects such as what retail offerings are available to the customers of the precinct? Do the food outlets offer al fresco dining? Is there a vibrance and energy being dedicated to the space? and has everything been well executed in terms of planning and design? When these aspects are met, social congregation and interaction is established as customers want to be in the space and enjoy spending time there.

By including these five factors into the development of a night time trading precinct, an environment can be created that customers want to be in and will choose to return to time and time again. What does this achieve? A shopping mall or centre which has optimised sales opportunities and created a successful precinct from both a financial perspective as well as an experiential one. 

Credit - cover image via Archilovers of The Urchin at Westfield Chermside