More than $42 billion was pumped through leading shopping centres over the past year, as landlords seemingly defied the current malaise affecting their tenants.
On the basis of moving annual turnover, Colonial First State's Chadstone complex in Melbourne, the largest centre in the country, maintained its lead as the only $1 billion centre. Thanks to a large redevelopment and new international brands, sales rose 5.2 per cent to $1.365 billion. The rankings are in the latest Big Guns report from Shopping Centre News.
It says the Big Gun centres (those with a leasable area over 45,000 square metres and housing one or both of the major department stores, Myer and David Jones) held their own in a year of difficult retail trading conditions.
SCN's survey covered 89 centres, accounting for about $42.4 billion in annual sales for 2012 - collectively up 1.7 per cent for the year to the end of February.
Westfield took the next seven spots, with Bondi Junction second at $972.8 million, Chermside (Queensland) third with $876 million and Doncaster fourth at $839 million, a rise of 3.4 per cent.
At last half of most centres' income was generated through less traditional retail areas, such as cinemas, food courts, medical centres and other leisure activities, according to landlords.
This has led some experts to call for a name change for shopping centres, to reflect the more theme-park orientation of malls.
SCN publisher Michael Lloyd said sales figures appear to be in contrast to current pessimism often reported about the retail and shopping centre sectors.
He said the huge centres were changing dramatically. "They used to be shopping precincts and then they moved to shopping, plus leisure and entertainment. Now they're shopping, leisure and entertainment, services, medical and dental centres - they're just town centres," Mr Lloyd said.
Landlords said the next year would see a focus on redeveloping shopping centres and the entrance of more international brands.