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Shopping and public transport: Westfield around the world

The conventional wisdom in New Zealand seems to be that people will always drive to go shopping, they won’t take public transport or cycle. It’s even spawned the term #Quaxing, named after your friend and mine, councillor Dick Quax.

I’ll talk about some UK and Australian examples of shopping centres below. In other news, UK and Australia are no longer to considered to be part of the western world.

With the Auckland Unitary Plan working through the hearings process, one of the topics up for debate is “parking minimums” – the idea that new shops, offices, bars etc need to provide a minimum number of carparks, based on their floor area (these rules also apply for dwellings across most of Auckland, based on the number of bedrooms).

Various retailers and shopping centres have argued for parking minimums to remain, including Scentre Group – who operate the Westfield centres across Auckland (and the rest of NZ, and Australia). They own some of the largest shopping centres in Auckland, and control a large number of carparks. They have valid concerns about other people using their parks when visiting other shops or places, and that potential ‘freeloading’ is the reason for them wanting parking minimums.

Incidentally, there are plenty of shopping centres in NZ which do quite well out of this ‘freeloading’. They know that they have the carparks, and shoppers will drive and park there but also visit the shops outside the mall, post some mail, etc. Providing the hub for parking means they’ve got the opportunity to make some sales at the beginning or end of this trip. Westfield Newmarket does this – a $10 purchase gives you two hours free parking there, and you’re free to wander around the rest of Newmarket as well. Back in the day, I’d often do this, and just go and grab something I needed at the supermarket. Many thousands of people would do something similar.

The wider Westfield group has an excellent understanding of cities, and retail centres which are oriented towards public transport. Until recently, they were the biggest owner of retail property in the world (they’ve now restructured and split off the NZ/ Australia centres into Scentre Group). Westfield has plenty of central city malls around the world, in some of the most high profile locations in the world. That includes two centres in the UK (London and Stratford City) which rely heavily on quaxing for their success. To quote:

One of the largest shopping centres in Europe, Westfield London, opened in 2008. Modal targets were for 40 percent of shoppers to visit by car, and 60 percent by public transport, walking and cycling. So far the actual figures have been 22 percent car and 78 percent walking, cycling and public transport.

Westfield London

Westfield London is multi-modal. Image source: Wikipedia

These UK centres are very successful. They each have specialty shop sales of £9,500 per square metre (this figure won’t mean much to most of you, but take my word for it, that’s a lot), and annual sales of around £1,000,000,000 (it’s pretty obvious that’s a lot). Public transport links allow these malls to achieve a level of sales that would quite simply not be possible in New Zealand, with our more car-dependent society and retail sector.

Car-based shoppers are still important for Westfield London and Stratford City. However, these malls have around 40% fewer carparks per square metre of retail space than equivalent centres in New Zealand (3 carparks per 100 sqm, whereas we’d have 5 per 100). And yet they have sales which are substantially higher than any centre in New Zealand – at least double the sales per square metre of a typical NZ centre, even before allowing for the cheaper price of goods in the UK.

Closer to home, Westfield Sydney is one of the global flagship centres for the Westfield brand, with a prime position in the Sydney CBD. It’s top of Westfield’s Australian portfolio in every respect, except total sales, where it comes second to Westfield Bondi Junction. And yet this mall, which is about seven or eight times the size of Auckland’s (current) Downtown Shopping Centre, has just 172 carparks. That’s not a typo, although of course there’ll be more in other buildings in the area. Westfield are certainly not wedded to having masses of parking; it depends on the location.

The examples above are in bigger cities than Auckland, and in central locations with excellent public transport provision. But Auckland shouldn’t short-change itself. Public transport patronage is booming, and the New Network will give much better access to much of the city in the next few years. Once the City Rail Link is complete, shopping centres like Sylvia Park, or Westfield Newmarket, or the proposed Downtown Shopping Centre, could target much higher sales than their current level, and with fewer parks. Getting to the shops on a bike, bus or train will become increasingly common in Auckland.

104 comments to Shopping and public transport: Westfield around the world

  • Graeme Brown

    New World on Wellington Station is always busy. Not many carparks round there.

  • Simon

    New World metro in Willis Street Wellington even busier. Zero car parks.

  • spartan

    Quax, what a bell end!

  • Christopher T

    I once spent an hour and a half exiting the car park at the consumer horror that is Westfield White City. It was 11:00pm and I’d been to see a film with friends; it wasn’t my choice to drive. Aside from the horrors of being stuck in what was probably the most soulless place in the universe and an absolute waste of one and a half hours of my life, it was a compelling testament to the failure of private motor vehicles as effective modes of transport in urban environments.

    • You drove to Shepherds Bush? Yes I can imagine that was a very bad time. I don’t think I have ever heard of someone doing that before.

      Soulless? That is/was the site of one of the best Antipodean bars in London, the legendary Shepherds Bush Walkabout!

      • luke

        Ahhh, the shez-bu walky. Happy memories. Snakebites all round.

        • Christopher T

          To clarify. It wasn’t me doing the driving; I don’t. I think the Walkabout is now closed; never went there but I knew about it. Westfield has completely changed for the worse what used to be an interesting, somewhat delinquent, urban space. Sanitised consumerism on a vast and, frankly, appalling scale.

          • Martin

            I helped build said Westfield. Anyway I’m surprised at your parking issue. I often park in there in the evenings and have no issue either driving there (from outside of London), finding a spot or getting out.

            Also the Walkie has gone, so has the Redback. Not really the antipodean nocturnal areas Shepherds Bush and Acton were, any more. To be fair other than Westfield and QPR there’s really not much worth visiting around there now.

            On another note neither Westfield is particularly close to central London and putting the Stratford one between the tube station and the Olympic Park was an appalling idea as anyone who went to the AB – Namibia game found out.

  • Hmmm interesting post and to be honest Scentre NZ is not the all evil corporation some would make it out to be.

    In any case given the Centres Zones Hearings of the Unitary Plan is complete the discussions about Malls in the run up to the Hearings and the Hearings themselves were interesting to say the least.

    To be rather frank my time for DNZ was very limited while I had more time for Kiwi Retail Group and Scentre themselves. I remember the constant wrangling between them and Council over Malls in the Metropolitan Centres of which elements Matt discussed in the post were brought in the debate.

    From what I gathered Scentre seemed a bit disjointed in their response with all guns blazing for more car parks wanted for St Lukes but very happy for more public transport at Manukau (their largest mall in Auckland). That said Scentre dont own any car parks at Manukau the Council does as well as the bulk of the land and lease it back to Scentre. Cue issues with freeloading as people using the southern car parks often go to the Courts or Rainbows End (and find their car later with a parking ticket or worse clamped) thus denying a space for shoppers. So getting more buses and a decent link between the mall and Manukau Station would be high on the wish list to widen the accessibility of that particular mall.

    The problem is now Council and Auckland Transport become the biggest road block to allowing those improvements in public transport which would give Scentre Manukau further consumer reach that they naturally want.

    So a dual problem:
    Yes Scentre around the world have malls that are truly multi modal and we have at least one or two here. At the same time in Auckland they both want more car parks and/or public transport access
    Council then through its bureaucracy also becomes a problem if it is in the road of a private operator wanting to tap into public transport for whatever reason. Classic example is Manukau Station being short to where it was originally meant to be while the Manukau Interchange itself is constantly delayed that is the centre piece of the South Auckland Bus Network.

    So if Council was not being that road block then at least with Manukau more customers would be able to access that particular mall by bus or train meaning I do not have to go around and around looking for a sodding car park.

  • There is a well worn path from the New World supermarket at the Queen St end of Victoria St to the west bound bus stop right outside. At prime commuter times evry second person on the bus seems to have a shopping bag or two.

    • So, according to the wise words of Mr Quax, NZ isn’t part of the Western World either.

      Where is this mythical “Western World” Dick is referring to? Do you think he is confused with the killer robot movie “Westworld” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070909/). I don’t remember anyone shopping by train in that movie, so he would technically be right.

      • mfwic

        Even some of the most car based centres can still get 20% of their trade from non-car based visitors. The owners try hard to get as much as they can. But by the same token they dont want to chase away the 80% and they get a bit annoyed when policy types try to use parking as a means to change mode share as that can come at a cost to them not the policy twits.

        • Darius

          Seeing that the Unitary Plan proposes to remove the MINIMUM, and leaves in relatively high maximums (except n some very, very limited areas), that excuse doesn’t hold. They can still provide as much parking as they want, they just can’t force their neighbours to also buildhuge parking decks.

          • mfwic

            It does hold. The twits plan is to make it hard to find a carpark. The plan is remove minimums so cheap shops can establish without parking beside the other shops. Net result is a parking shortage which they hope will result in a mode change. The more likely result is people will drive further to a centre with adequate parking and lobby the Council to spend public money on parking buildings.

          • Nick R

            I would say the ‘twits’ plan is to allow non parking intensive businesses to exist. Follow your logic: Supermarkets and big box rely on a high amount of parking. But they don’t want to do a single thing to manage their own parking, so we need regulations to force every business in the city to provide supermarket levels of parking whether they need it or not, just in case someone might park on the wrong side of the line. Meanwhile anyone that doesn’t actually need much or any parking, tough shit, you have to buy the land and build it anyway.

          • mfwic

            Balls- anyone who doesn’t need high levels of parking gets a dispensation. They are easy to get and the application is simple and cheap.

          • Mike

            mfwic – if dispensations are so easy, simple and cheap, why bother having the rule in the first place?

          • mfwic

            Mike sometimes you need the parking and sometimes you dont. Getting rid of it in all cases misses that point. Economists think like that. In the 1980’s Treasury looked at the Rabbit Boards in the South Island and noted there wasn’t a rabbit problem so they convinced the Government to scrap the Boards. In two years there was a rabbit problem. The only people who were surprised were the economists.

          • Matthew W

            “Net result is a parking shortage” No such thing as a shortage if the price is right.

          • Mike

            mfwic – if dispensations as to whether parking is needed or not are as easy, simple and cheap as you assert the process for approving them clearly can’t be rigorous or comprehensive, so they must effectively be rubberstamping the application for dispensation – so why bother requiring people to waste time with an application that’s going to be approved anyway? As for rabbit boards, the relevance escapes me.

          • mfwic

            Mike you should never judge the quality of anything by how much it costs. It is one of the rules of the price model.

  • Mr Plod

    Hi Matt, this is a timely post given the mall section of RPG’s Westgate Town Centre is due to open net week. In this blog of 2013 you expressed some positive points about it so I tried to discover how many carparks per 100 sq meters it would have.
    http://transportblog.co.nz/2013/02/04/fly-through-of-the-planned-westgate-town-centre/
    Unfortunately none of RPG’s sales info lists carpark count probably because the below ground stuff is dependent on building layout.
    For the record the existing Westgate runs at the bottom end of the NZ scale at 3.4 parks per 100 sq m so maybe that’s why the carpark is always full but the shops appear empty. Whereas Westgate Outlet, out the back, has 5.1 parks per 100sq mt.
    The question for quaxxers is whether the bus interchange will move from the old Westgate to the new, stay where it is or will buses stop at both.

    • Louise

      On opening day, if you want to get the bus to the new Norwest Shopping Centre, you have to get off at Westgate & then hike over the road to the new shops: http://northwestshoppingcentre.co.nz/getting-here/

    • John Polkinghorne

      Yup, the original Westgate Town Centre has 3.4 parks per 100 sqm, but it’s lower than the others (most enclosed shopping malls, say) because it’s more of a large format centre – those always tend to have fewer parks, just because the shops don’t generate as many visits.
      DNZ put out a background document when they bought the NorthWest development saying it had 1,139 parks for 27,000 sqm, so that’s about 4.2 parks per 100 sqm. still a bit lower than average for NZ.

  • Peter Olorenshaw

    I think you are missing the online grocery shopping now available. For $10 (I think) I get what I ordered delivered to our door. So this means we can do the remainder of our shopping – our fresh fruit and veges – at the saturday market on our bikes easily.
    I know for some people (only in smaller centres?) supermarket shopping is a chance for good social intercourse, for many its drudgery. I think the ordering online takes no longer and is probably shorter than actually walking around the supermarket with time savings at the checkout and getting to and from the s. mkt.
    I wonder if more and more people will do this and so supermarkets won’t need such big carparks.
    And from a roadspace/pollution point of view, surely its more efficient having one vehicle running out from the store to go to household after household after household, rather than filling the roads (or the trains) up with people all separately going to the supermarket.

    • stevenz

      All good points. But DQ would remind you that they don’t deliver groceries by train.
      (Yet.)

    • Danx

      Yes, home delivery is great. Haven’t had to do a big supermarket shop in person for a couple of years now! Countdown delivers for $6 a go (if you buy 20 deliveries at once). It is *way* quicker to shop online. And since you can do it from home, you can check exactly what you do and don’t need it usually turns out to be .

      PLaces that don;t have their own delivery, try a service like Urban Sherpa if you are in central auckland — $12 for any delivery.

  • Feijoa

    Was it straight out questioned whether the unitary plan is the right tool to enforce against ‘free loading’ of car parks (in an extremely untargetted manner)? It sounds like a private issue that could easily be rectified through entry and exit gates, like at Newmarket, if it is a problem at their malls.

    Next up minimum lemon tree regulations to discourage people without one pinching from the neighbour’s tree.

    • Exactly. Even if the freeloader issue is valid, and it looks exaggerated to me, parking minimums are not the way to deal with it; as the 277 model shows.

      No these dominant retailers want to use regulation of minimums to squeeze competitors out. If even a little dairy has to provide car parks there will be fewer innovative start-ups, for example transit focussed businesses will be crippled by land costs that aren’t productive for them, or are actually impossible to find. It’s all about economic hegemony and consenting authorities should have nothing to do with it.

      Parking Minimums are clearly a moment where no regulation clearly does less harm than any concoction spaces per square metre, or other unsupportable metric.

  • I am reliably informed that the most profitable Countdowns and Warehouse in the country are their AKL city stores WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PARKING; no associated parking and little if any nearby parking.

    Parking is only necessary to shopping if you make it so. Westgate is a very dated model, as are the surrounding suburbs; no integration. Unmixed use. Proximity beats mobility every time. In the city the customers are already there.

    • Mr Plod

      Good point, Patrick! Six months ago Countdown’s online business was the equivalent of one large suburban store.

      If Westgate & the surrounding suburbs are dated models what is their fate? How do they become repurposed or are they destined to remain suburban ghettos served mainly by the motorcar?

      • stevenz

        In the rest of the “Western World” this 1950’s model isn’t doing very well at all. Many many suburban malls have closed or been redeveloped into other uses, or completely rebuilt into new urbanist, multiuse forms. Westgate is just laying the groundwork for that to happen here.

      • unaha-closp

        Westgate serves the widely displaced rural living areas of greater west Auckland and these areas will never be allowed to develop sufficient density to sustain public transport choices. The prevailing “wisdom” is that the car is to be king for all of Auckland, except a tiny little area in the middle. Westgate is as much a beneficiary of public transport non-delivery as the downtown benefits from public transport provision.

      • It will go on because there is so much sunk infrastructure in this model. The separation of living, shopping, working, and recreation all but enforces auto-dependency. It is a tragedy to still be building on this hopelessly inefficient pattern this late in the 20th century [ie after it’s gone!]. Interestingly other places are showing signs of going the other way, notably Albany, with real mixed use developments being added to the currently terribly separated pattern.

        Pakuranga is hovering on the edge of disaster; ie either go backwards with the flyover, or entering this century by planning residential above the current centre, in the same air space to become a real mixeduse centre and in charge of its own destiny. Choosing proximity; the more powerful force, especially with the AMETI Busway overing real connectivity, especially over going all in, again, on congested traffic mobility.

        • unaha-closp

          I agree it is a tragedy, unfortunately the vast areas of rural living surrounding Westgate and Albany and Botany preserve this outdated model. Our decision to halt the expansion of suburbs, in to which bus services can penetrate, has resulted in the growing hordes of car reliant shoppers that sustain these malls.

          In a normal progression of events what is happening to Pakuranga and New Lynn would be typical, car reliance and parking would be replaced by public transport. Only by making the boundary of the city so constricted and growing our rural living population instead of our suburbs, can we preserve this outmoded hopelessly inefficient pattern well into the 21st century.

          • Rural is fine. For rural access the powered vehicle is unrivalled; it’s when we are building mass conurbations that the switch to proximate access and Transit connectivity must be enabled.

          • unaha-closp

            And as we actively block the switching mechanism from rural to urban we must expect an expansion of rural living and the mega-mall infrastructure.

          • Sailor Boy

            Obviously the reason people don’t catch PT is that we haven’t built new areas to spread our thin budget across, rather than that we don’t allow people to build more houses in the existing suburbs in areas already served by PT.

            \sarc

          • unaha-closp

            Obviously the dream scenario for public transport and a congestion free Auckland, is having endless tracts of rural living with commuters driving cars to Mega-malls.

            /sarc.

          • Sailor Boy

            Please tell me you are being facetious.

            Obviously if we want higher ridership we are better to have all population growth on existing PT corridors, that is neither possible or desirable for other reasons so we need to strike a balance. Simply opening the RUB is not a balance.

          • unaha-closp

            Yes I was being sarcastic, but opening the MUL and expanding the PT networks outwards is in balance.

            To grow PT ridership we want to have as many people as possible living within access of PT networks. In a growing city this means the PT networks (and all other service networks) need to be where the people are. Doing otherwise means the value of land inside the network soars, making it increasingly economically viable for people to commute ever longer distances from low value non-serviced land.

  • Andrew

    The car park wastelands of Westfield Manukau and Sylvia Park are prime locations for intensive housing or apartments to be built. Then the centres will have people constantly passing through. Both malls have excellent access to the motorways and public transport.

  • Joel belsham

    Just moved from Henderson to Hammermsith. And yes the mall is charmingly integrated with the urban environment here. It’s also devastated the surrounding high streets and local economies. Chur

  • unaha-closp

    Good thing our transport infrastructure is getting paid for out of rates, all these locations going up in value due to public infrastructure.

  • Joel Belsham

    I’ve recently moved from Henderson to Hammersmith. The mall here is indeed charmingly integrated into the urban environment. It has also devastated nearby high streets and local economies. Westfield innit, chur!

  • Early Commuter

    I’d love to be able to go shopping via public transport, but it will require PT to be “built to spec”

    If I’m going to work on the bus, I already have a full 36L backpack (that’s just gym clothes and food – it fills up fast)

    Shopping will take up another 36L backpack. But there definitely isn’t enough room in current buses to fit that

    • Delivery works. I never shop with a car. I do other things with my car but shopping isn’t one of them, I get straight to the front door of all shops via Transit or bike, everything I buy is either portable or is delivered. Works for me because I have a base range of proximate retail; Farro, Fruit World, Mitre 10, a short bike away, and the full range in the City, Ponsonby, or occasionally Newmarket. I never ever see the inside of a mall, as there is no need. The centre city has every single mall type outlet plus everything they don’t have. Malls have no competitive advantage for their limited and repetitive range of offerings except free parking for driving addicts. And are an anodyne experience always. Meh.

  • Joel Belsham

    I’ve recently moved from Henderson to Hammersmith. The mall here is indeed charmingly integrated into the urban environment. It has also devastated nearby high streets and local economies. Bloody good one night stand Westfield innit, chur!

  • mfwic

    How on earth do you equate you spending $10 at a supermarket equates with the centre doing well out of free loading? Of you $10 spend to get free parking in Newmarket less than $1 goes to the owners of the centre. That is the problem. You are free loading and costing them more than they get back. So the answer for them is either increase the charge- in which case they become parking garage operaters which they dont want to be or they make the pedestrian connections to the outside world more difficult. Expect a lot more of the second option.

    • Darius

      You’re completely missing the point made: The $10 example of 277 does show several things:

      – there’s a mechanism to deterr freeloading: Charge for your parking (and exempt your own shoppers to not deterr them)
      – if you make a customer spend AT LEAST $10, then the likelihood is that they will spend a lot more. They already entered a shop to buy something
      – If $10 is insufficient to cover the costs of parking by non-customers, then you can raise it. Market forces – you have full control over this.

      • mfwic

        1/ You can charge a freeloader any amount and they will still park there if the benefit they get exceeds the cost. Freeloaders are not people who dont pay, they are people who are using parking provided by a retailer (to support their own business) who instead visit some other activity.
        2/ They might spend more than $10 or they might just be going there to meet get validation.
        3/ If you raise the price you can achieve a market clearing equilibrium IN THE PARKING MARKET. We are talking about making retail work. Economists all like to slice things so thin they miss the point completely. The issue is that these centres are not the CBD they work because more than 1/2 the people can get there by car. Screw that up and you screw up the centre. Yes you can name centres in the UK or elsewhere that have little parking. But people there dont get much choice. Here we do.

        • Darius

          If you think Newmarket is not a CBD-type area, then I think there’s not much point in continuing this discussion with you.

          Also, you seem to believe that we should make rules and laws, because it is easier for private (especially large) companies to make us do so than them sorting the “free loading” issue themselves. Sorry, but these companies cry “free market” whenever it helps them, let them solve their own issues with free market tools too, instead of making the governments enforce their preferred methods on others.

          • mfwic

            Newmarket is heading towards a CBD type of centre but more people still go there by car. Sunnynook isn’t a CBD nor are the vast majority of centres they are going to try and stuff up with this nonsense. The thinking seems to be that a couple of supermarkets in the CBD dont have parking so none of them need it. Or “here is a shopping centre on the other side of the planet where shops are heavily regulated and they dont have much parking so we dont need it here”.

          • TimR

            mfwic @5:09: take a look at glen Eden Fresh Choice. Lots of walk-in trade from the bus and train as well cycling, in addition to what appears to be a very low parking ratio. Last time I checked it was a pretty long way from the CBD. The issue isnt denying parking; just reaching a sound balance.

        • Stu Donovan

          The use of the word “freeloader” is emotive, and your use of the phrase “policy twits” is a rather cowardly insult to a lot of people who can’t reply.

          Now to the matter at hand: If retailers are charging “non-shopppers” more than the opportunity cost of the parking that the latter uses, then that improves your bottom line.

          Or put another way, profit from customers who shop is equivalent to profit from customers who park. So if retailers implement a validated parking scheme, and they charge the correct amount to the non-shoppers, then business is no better/worse off – such that the term “freeloader” is redundant. Non-shoppers are no longer “freeloading”, and are instead contributing to the firm’s bottom line as much as everyone else.

          What you seem to be saying is:
          1. Existing firms with lots of parking can implement validated parking schemes, but they don’t want to.
          2. Instead, they’d prefer to require others (via MPRs) to provide onsite parking.

          The main problem I have with this is that all the evidence suggests that the MPRs have costs which exceed those of parking management. And in the several years we’ve been debating this topic you (and your colleagues) haven’t presented any evidence to the contrary, i.e. the general conclusion is that MPRs are not the most effective way to achieve the stated outcome (managing parking demand). Note that I’ve presented on this topic to the last 2 NZAE conferences running, and had conversations with many of NZ’s top economists (public and private), and have never had anyone disagree with this finding.

          So your argument for MPRs seems to rest not on the grounds of economic efficiency, but instead on a belief that the existing retailers have some sort of “first mover” right. This right seems to mean that instead of taking eminently practicable steps to manage access to their own property, e.g. validated parking, they instead have the right to foist costs on others.

          Really, you seem to be talking about distributional impacts.

          The problem I have with the distributional impacts line of reasoning is that it’s so very subjective. Big retailers don’t think it’s fair they may have to manage their own parking. By the same token, other landowners don’t think it’s fair big retailers should influence how they use their property. Who do you side with? Apparently the side who’s paying you, as per the old saying ;).

          In this context I like to look for legal analogies. And I think the one that best suits this situation is the laws which cover the obligations and responsibilities of how to manage access to private property. In this context, erecting a boom gate at the entrance to your parking lot, and/or a validated parking scheme, is very similar to installing a fence around your property and/or a gate at the end of a drive. If you didn’t take such practicable steps, then I don’t think the courts would look very favourably on your complaints of trespassing animals or people. And they probably would be unlikely to support efforts to infringe on the property rights of others, which is effectively what MPRs do.

          So, in this context it seems to me the more reasonable solution, which seems to align with prevailing economic and legislative practice, is that retailers are expected to manage access to their own parking. In my opinion, you and your clients would need to make a very strong case as to why this generally accepted legislative framework should not apply in this context.

    • Peter Nunns

      277’s validated parking approach has been in place for around two years and they haven’t raised the minimum spending amount for validation or (as far as I can tell) reduced pedestrian connectivity. To me, that suggests that they’re pretty happy with the way it’s working out.

      Also, malls _already_ do quite a bit to make pedestrian connectivity out of the mall difficult. Possibly moreso in areas where MPRs apply, like St Lukes.

      • mfwic

        It has been in longer than that. I used to buy a roll of film to get free parking and I haven’t used film in over 10 years. The mall owner ends up in a bind – they charge to maximise profit for the parking and accept people are using them to visit elsewhere or they take it on the nose. Most will accept the 2nd as the parking is there to make the shops work. They are retailers not Wilsons parking. In the long run we will see more pressure for out of zone retail so they dont have to provide for all the freeloaders. That means retail located as far as they can get from centres. Be careful what you wish for. And for those in centres it will be the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie model of urban design.

      • Ha! Does this mean you’ve only been shopping there for two years?
        As MWFIC has noted, it has been around for well over ten years – I’d hazzard a guess it’s closer to 20. It used to be $5 (requiring a sushi purchase) then got bumped up to $6 (meaning you couldn’t just buy the ‘value pack’ sushi ay $5.50 anymore) and now it’s $10.
        It might be an interesting metric to track – when will it bump up to $12, or $15?

    • John Polkinghorne

      This was back in the day when I was a poor student, with a limited willingness or ability to pay. Perhaps it’s not a good example. Some people would ‘freeload’ like that, and no the centre wouldn’t do well out of it, but most people would spend much more – an average retail transaction is much higher, at least $50. A more typical example might be someone parking there and doing a bigger supermarket shop on the way out, or even having a browse and potentially buying something from the more profitable (from the mall owner’s point of view) specialty shops. Or multiple shops.

      For retailers, the biggest challenges are getting people to the shop entrance, and getting them inside the entrance. So if people want to get the ‘free’ parking in Westfield Newmarket, they have to at least go up the stairs, wander through the mall (past quite a few other shops if they go to the supermarket), and potentially be tempted by some purchase or another. And mall owners can indeed do very well out of giving people a reason to come there, even if they hadn’t necessarily planned on buying something. That’s why they have free parking, and that’s why they have Santa Claus.

  • AnalogKid

    The problem with the anti-‘freeloading’ position is that it not only assumes shoppers will turn up in a car, it also expects that visits to neighbouring stores will be done by car, even if it involves a journey of only a couple of hundred metres.

    When we can’t get stuff anywhere else, the family will take a car-trip up to Albany. When we do, we try try hit all the stores we need in one go, and preferably without moving the car. It’s crazy to drive between the mall and the megacentre, but the layout of footpaths would indicate that despite the pedestrian crossing in between, no planner ever expected people to walk from one location to the other.

    • buttwizard69420

      Agreed. The other issue with malls is that not all the stores are available at every mall. If I want to visit certain shops I need to spend an afternoon driving across Auckland to visit two or three different malls. This wouldn’t even really be possible using PT, but the time factor is something you have to factor into PT usage vs. driving as well as the actual cost of running the car.

    • John Polkinghorne

      That’s a really interesting point actually. It could happen in Albany, Botany, Manukau, Sylvia Park, anywhere there’s a couple of different shopping centres close together. You park in one but want to go to the other as well, so you drive over to it because either a) they make it really hard to walk or b) you’re worried you’ll get ticketed, clamped etc.
      Now that Sylvia Park and the large format centre across the road are both owned by Kiwi Property (with the large format one rebranded “Sylvia Park Lifestyle”), I’m hopeful they’ll look at ways to fix this – improving connectivity between the two sides of Mt Wellington Highway, but also having a unified parking policy across both centres i.e. you’re allowed to park in one and walk across to the other as well.

  • kelvin

    They should consider how the hong kong TOD shopping mall works. There is almost no carpark, yet sales per meter is at least ten times higher than nz.

    How it works is on top of a new rail station, there is a mall. On top of the mall, there 30 levels of residential and office, maybe only one level of carpark.

    99% of shoppers get there by rail.

    The crazy thing is, malls ajoint other malls via air conditioned overpass and people do not need to go out to the street to go to the next mall. In major rail station there could be 9 multi level malls (3×3) all linked together forming a maga mall that would take more than a day to walk.

    The other mall upstair would be another skycraper with another 30 levels of apartments, restaurants, recreational, or office.

    People never need to go out to the street to do anything. Not to mention about driving at all.

    People get tired of this magamall? Go to the next rail station and there is another maga mall like this.

    That is what a real mall is.

    • Neil

      Good points, but in Auckland no railway stations have any shopping above then. Very few have shops close by, and it would appear CRL stations will be the same. If they allowed a 30 storey apartment or office block above them, it would pay for the construction of the station.

    • Scott

      I liked in Hong Kong, how some malls had Octopus validation. I don’t know how it worked, But I assumed if you caught the MRT to the mall, and walked into the heart of the mall, and scanned your card they would pay for your trip to the mall or something like that. We know foot traffic is valuable to malls, and they are prepared to pay to get it, either by providing subsided parking , locating in busy (expensive land) areas, or other means.

  • Stranded on the North Shore

    Westfield Albany has signs (the legal mumbo jumbo with few pictures) banning bicycles among other things in their carparks. Considering that the whole Albany Westfield complex is surrounded by carparks, they’re effectively banning cyclists from shopping there. Way to go.

    • wsomc

      Albany was still build with that optimistic vision of having the convenience of driving your car from your doorstep to wherever you want to go. The layout of that mall is only one example. If you go a bit to the west to Albany village and look at the street network, you’ll see it doesn’t even have those pedestrian shortcuts. A walk from a house to the old town centre is often more than twice as long as the straight line distance. Also note just how much car parks Massey University has over there.

      And yes, if you drive to Albany for your Christmas shopping, you’ll have a very bad day.

  • Tony

    Can’t remember the last time I visited one of those horrendous fucking shitholes.

  • Ted F

    This is why the local shops no longer seem to work.
    We used to have local grocers and they were within walking distance. Now I use a bike for the day to day shopping and am able to get to most of the Countdowns, Newworld and Pac-n-save supermarkets, Mitre 10 and Bunnings on my bike as well. But they have killed Papakura’s main street which is now mostly $3 shops and food outlets. I don’t see a way of resurrecting the heart without massive reductions in rents on those properties and how to get people back in to them.

    • Guy

      Ted, move to Wellington. Not a single mall in Wellington (there is one in the nearby city of Lower Hutt, and another in Porirua, but no actually in Wellington). We still have streets, with people walking, buying, carrying, quaxing, etc.

  • There are quite a few mega malls built alongside major public transport facilities, New Lynn, Henderson, Manurewa, Silvia Park, spring readily to mind. But for those malls, and they are popular, to really work with public transport, shoppers would need to change their ways. The once a week mega shop (once a fortnight in our house) needs a private vehicle. Trying to lump all the grocery bags home by bus or train just isn’t practical. What is probably needed is a return to the old days of shopping little and often, but that needs a whole new mindset. Home deliveries could work, but most people I know like to chose their own groceries, especially the edibles.

    • Nick R

      I get my once a week megashop delivered to my door. I book it for the 5 to 5:30 delivery slot so its waiting when I get home from work on Mondays. Having said that I get most of the fresh veg from the cheaper and better veg shop just up the road.

      The amount I save buying my fresh fruit and veg not at the supermarket more than pays for the delivery fee.

  • James Howitt

    Not Westfield but google the rebuilding of Birmingham New Street and how it now integrates into the city shopping “experience”.

  • John Polkinghorne

    Behind the scenes, us bloggers have been having a debate about the word “valid” in this sentence from the post: “[retailers] have valid concerns about other people using their parks when visiting other shops or places, and that potential ‘freeloading’ is the reason for them wanting parking minimums”.

    I could have written this without the ‘valid’, since it keeps much the same meaning while removing a value judgement, but it didn’t occur to me at the time. And I do think the word valid is, well, valid. Here’s why.

    We’re talking about the example of someone parking in a store’s carpark while having no intention of shopping there. This is a specific example of a general idea, which is infringing on private property rights. I could use a number of other examples – putting up a poster on the window of a dairy without asking, or someone you don’t know parking in the driveway of your house – but the clearest analogy I can think of is going into a cafe and sitting at one of their tables and not ordering anything.

    A parking space is a rivalrous good, so if one person parks there it can’t be used by someone else. If you think it’s not valid for a retailer to be annoyed about someone using a park without planning to visit the store, substitute in a non-parking example instead. If you think it’s not valid for Westfield since they’re a large faceless company etc etc, consider a more local example instead. Private property rights are an important partof our society, and within that society I think it’s valid for people to have concerns when those rights are infringed.

    None of the above means that ‘freeloading’ is something which needs specific regulation. This post is arguing against that, and Stu Donovan from our blog has studied and written persuasively on the topic of parking minimums for a number of years. I’m not in favour of parking minimums just as I’m not in favour of making the cafe provide a certain number of tables.The costs of such a policy outweigh any benefits.

    Also note that retailers may be even more worried about freeloading if the minimums are removed. If a shop only really needs two carparks but the district plan makes it provide five, it would be more concerned if a non-customer parks there if it had two parks. Again, this doesn’t mean we should regulate so that it has to have five.

    I’m also not talking about public spaces, e.g. those on the roadside or in council carparks. Those are provided as public goods, not private ones, and they are paid for by the public, not an individual person or business. But retailers do pay for their own carparks, implicitly or often explicitly (their lease will often specify X carparks at $Y a week each).

  • I’ve got one of those (shock, horror) central city one fifth acre paradises where I, my wife actually, grow a lot of my own veges and fruit. Now if Pak n Save was to offer home delivery I could well be interested, but then I would miss my lunch at my favourite cafe which is on the way-ish home from Pak n Save.

  • Steve W (with a space)

    Westfield in Newmarket (“277”) and at Sylvia park are my “go to” malls precisely because they are both easily accessible by train.

    I’ve also had the pleasure if visiting the Westfield in London at Shepherds Bush via the bus and the tubs on different occasions. It’s an awesome place with some amazing spaces. But it is also so large that on both occasions the people I was with simply weren’t prepared to walk far enough to actually look at the whole place. I saw one end on one occassion and and the other end on the second…and the middle will remain a mystery for now.

    Maybe malls like this need an internal transport system. Elderly or simply unfit people can’t handle the size / scale. Next time, I’m going by myself.

    The place was thronged, but then so is much of the rest of London on a fine day or a rainy one.

    • Neil

      Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur offer Battery Operated Scooters as well as Baby Strollers. This is a shopping mall complex that makes Westfield London look quite provincial – 550 shops, 2 hotels, Convention Centre, 11,000 car parks, train station and its own motorway off ramps. When I visited this year the car park was nearly full by opening time.

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