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Office occupancy highlights ongoing CBD challenge

The Property Council’s latest office occupancy data underlines the importance of increased vaccination uptake in restoring activity levels in our city centres.

The monthly survey of office landlords revealed Brisbane’s CBD office occupancy rate dropped to 60 per cent of pre-COVID levels in August, after hovering around 70 per cent for close to a year.

Queensland Executive Director of the Property Council, Jen Williams, explained that when the survey first began in July 2020, Brisbane CBD occupancy was at just 48 per cent of pre-COVID levels.

“While Brisbane’s occupancy rates had risen from this early low and become quite consistent month-on-month, August’s results have seen the city drop to a level of occupancy not seen since September 2020,” Ms Williams said.

“Queensland has so far been spared from the extended lockdowns being experienced in other states, however it is clear the most recent 8 day lockdown and lingering health directives have had a big impact on confidence.

“Masks in the workplace, border closures, shifting goalposts for vaccination targets, and of course the ever-present risk of snap lockdowns, have contributed to an increased number of employees once again working from home.

“This drop in occupancy has flow-on impacts not only to workplaces and team culture, but to the retail, social and cultural institutions that rely on the steady flow of foot traffic that the city’s worker population used to reliably provide.

“Given the messaging we have heard from Government this week, it is evident that until we can get our state’s vaccination rates to a higher level, the current uncertainty and suppressed CBD activity levels will remain.

“Earlier this year- in partnership with a range of public and private stakeholders- the Property Council ran its Fridays in the City campaign to draw attention to the importance of the CBD.

“What we heard loud and clear during the campaign was the role of leadership in shifting worker habits and creating a physical environment that people actively choose to be part of.

“As we continue the race to reach nationally-agreed targets, it is imperative the leaders in our community work together to boost vaccination rates, so that our state can safely and swiftly open up to the rest of the nation- and the world.

“Over the coming weeks, the Property Council will once again be engaging with our city’s leaders to examine new and innovative ways to both lift vaccination take-up and attract activity back to our CBD.”

Media contact: Jen Williams |  M  0448 432 936 |   E  jwilliams@propertycouncil.com.au