Stop sipping tea and pick up the dessert spoon. The retail frenzy of the past three years that has seen Chinese and Taiwanese "bubble tea" chains open hole-in-the-wall outlets has peaked and now some are being reborn as Asian dessert outlets.
Centred on areas with high numbers of Asian residents, visitors and students, Ten Ren Tea, Chatime, Easyway Tea and Bubble Cup opened colourful outlets offering cold "bubble teas", blending ice, milk, tea and fruit.
While outlets opened in Box Hill, Doncaster and Glen Waverley, the CBD has been the main focus with some chains, such as Chatime, having as many as four outlets.
But all fads peak and decline - as tea outlets soared, retailers struggled to sustain high sales and have been forced to change focus to survive. Max Cookes, CBRE's associate director of retail services, said Asian dessert concept stores have been replacing the once-popular tea shops.
He said dessert chains, such as Dessert Story and Meet Fresh, focused on Asian-style desserts, using mixes of sago, tofu, taro balls, jelly, mango and coconut. Taiwanese dessert chain Meet Fresh recently took over the Ten Ren Tea store at 147 Swanston Street and Mr Cookes said it was one of many.
The switch-over comes amid a trend for food retailers to increase their share of commercial tenancies in the CBD.
Food and beverage operators account for 29.2 per cent of tenancies, up from 26.5 per cent five years ago, according to Knight Frank. Clothing and footwear retailers, at 29.3 per cent, have been losing market share. With Chris Vedelago