Retailers battle to survive on ritzy strip
Wasteland stopped trading in King Street this week. Picture: Bill Hatto, The West Australian

It is home to some of the world's top luxury brands but life on Perth's ritziest shopping strip is not proving so easy for independent retailers, with three King Street shops closing this month.

This week Stiller became the latest King Street clothing boutique to close after fellow clothes store Wasteland and popular coffee haunt Zekka.

Although few King Street retailers - current and outgoing - were willing to speak publicly, it appears rising rents and lacklustre consumer spending were concerns.

Some store owners feared international high-end brands might soon be the only tenants that could afford the rent.

Others said the difficulties facing independent retailers were not limited to King Street or the city.

Prada, Gucci and Tiffany & Co are among global labels to flock to King Street in recent years alongside home-grown labels Tarvydas and Wheels & Dollbaby.

Chanel plans to open a store in November where Linneys jewellery shop and clothing store Periscope operated.

One retailer said several other wholesalers had shut as well as Wasteland, Zekka and Stiller, which still has a store in Cottesloe.

"These were all independently owned businesses that thrived from the business of city locals," he said. "It's sad that they have shut but I guess King Street has a different outlook on the future than that of these businesses.

"I just hope the city doesn't get taken over by the international market."

Another source said some rents in central Perth were $4000/sqm to $5000/sqm when they should be closer to half that.

"That's not sustainable," he said. "Rent and penalty rates need to be carefully reconsidered . . . We're still battling an island mentality in a global marketplace."

He said some retailers were locking themselves into untenable rental agreements and he expected more closures.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive James Pearson said conditions for retail were "patchy" with many consumers holding back on spending.

"Many smaller retailers have been facing significantly higher business costs like higher rents," he said.

"We hope changes like Sunday trading will help provide a much needed shot in the arm."

The West Australian

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