Does Freo need Santa?

CHRISTMAS is approaching fast and Christmas shopping has already started, but will Fremantle be a shopping destination for the festive season? 

Can, and do we want to, compete with massive shopping centres, such as Garden City?

Most franchises that were in Fremantle have closed or relocated, and there is no longer a department store in Freo either since Myer left, so is Freo still attractive for shoppers? 

Many shoppers prefer the comfort of sterile shopping centres, where all shops are in easy walking distance and where parking, if available during rush periods, is free. 

What would make Fremantle a more attractive shopping destination? What is missing?

Local Freo people have different preferences and priorities than those coming here from the Perth metro areas or tourists. 

They want a good bakery and deli in the inner city, a florist, repair shops. Some want Myer back.

Others want national clothing franchises back, because what Warren and Bousefields offer is limited, and Terrace Men is too expensive for many, so they go shopping elsewhere for funky, creative and affordable clothes.

Someone suggested Fremantle should become the new King Street, a place were all the classy fashion brands gather, but that is unlikely to happen any time soon. 

A local shopping centre would be an attraction, but we have heard rumours for years that even Target might leave Freo, so who would open shop here, when Freo is mainly a weekend destination?

We were promised that the FOMO concept was going to be an exceptional and unique retail offering, not seen anywhere before, but it is a cutesy food and entertainment hub instead. 

The owners blame Covid for that, but is that the real reason they could not find retailers to lease there?

Fremantle has quite a few unique small shops, such as Remedy, Kate&Abel and Compendium, but it lacks variety. Shopping offerings are limited and a bit low-brow in Freo. 

It is simplistic to blame landlords, who are allegedly asking too much rent, for the decline of Fremantle’s retail. 

Fact is that many traders have been suffering for a long time, not just the last two years due to Covid. 

It’s the numbers game that does not stack up.

Some traders do well. For example Mark at the Record Finder in High Street. 

He is in his shop seven days a week from early till late, with a smile on his face, but others have dark display windows that rarely change and have not been cleaned for months, and blame Fremantle council for not supporting them. 

Why some shops are trading well, whilst other are not, is a science none of us will ever understand. Why are certain shopping days better than others? 

Friends have the best sales on Thursdays, while others delight in good turnover on Sundays. 

The Jack Stillman shop, that relocated from  the Manning Arcade to Market Street, could not believe the difference the passing trade made for them on the first weekend in the new premises. Business was roaring, a shop assistant told me.

Parking is not killing Fremantle. 

There are more than 5,000 parking bays in the city, and parking is much cheaper than in Perth. There should be better signage for it though. 

Night time carols by candlelight are sweet, but do nothing for retailers, so what about some daytime events, that are not limited to Walyalup Koort, but are moving around the inner city? 

Why not have a Santa stage at the west end of High Street, where the trams used to turn?

The City of Fremantle’s Christmas marketing has become a predictable routine. 

We need more creativity and stop doing same-same every year. 

This year’s new Christmas banners along the Cappuccino Strip lack flair and creativity. They are a waste of money.

Roel Loopers

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