What a difference a year makes.
The tables have turned for retail tenancy on Shepparton’s two biggest central business district streets.
In the past year, the retail fortunes of Shepparton’s two key arterials appear to have split.
Wyndham St has gone from having more than a fifth of its shops being vacant to less than 10.
The new courthouse redevelopment has boosted business confidence in the key north-south route, according to Greater Shepparton City Council.
In the 12 months to December, Wyndham St had the number of vacant shops drop from 20 to seven.
But, High St has as many vacant shops as it did a year ago, with no recorded improvement.
The 12 vacant shops in December is the same amount as an annual audit a year prior.
The council believed the lack of a long-discussed truck bypass around Shepparton was hurting the key east-west arterial’s chances at filling shops.
Greater Shepparton City Council’s incoming sustainable development director Geraldine Christou said Wyndham St achieved the biggest change, with some sites leased for office space.
She believed the new courthouse development on Wyndham St was attracting food operators and also business support services.
‘‘We expect this to continue,’’ Ms Christou said.
‘‘This demonstrates the importance and relevance of new infrastructure and the opportunities such development presents.’’
Ms Christou said High St continued to prove challenging in attracting investment and council was lobbying for the Goulburn Valley Bypass to make the strip a more attractive place to invest in.
Council was also advocating for funding to help finance the development of strips within the central business district.
Addressing the vacancy rates along High St last week, Ms Christou remained confident it was something a bypass would help with.
Some $10million to start planning for the long-awaited Goulburn Valley Shepparton bypass was in last year’s Victorian budget, funding welcomed in the region.
In October, Ms Christou said consultation done as part of bypass advocacy, including with retailers and consumers, had indicated the volume of traffic and heavy vehicles using High St did deter people from attempting to park in the street.
Overall, Shepparton’s central business district vacancy rates dropped one per cent in the past four months, according to the latest audit.
More broadly, vacancy rates had dropped about four per cent across the year to December and there was just less than 50 retail vacancies across the central business district.
Ms Christou said it was initiating discussions with potential investors to address the situation.
‘‘Council has recognised gaps in the CBD and hopes to expand the food offering within the precinct,’’ she said.
Identifying key challenges in filling shops, Ms Christou said online buying was applying some pressure on retailers, something that was happening globally, not just in Shepparton, but impacted new retail investment.
‘‘Whilst retail is experiencing challenges, council believes that retail plays a significant role within the CBD,’’ she said.