Freo’s Future in WA’s Tough Economic Times

There has been worthwhile local debate in recent weeks on the economic challenges key metro centres like Fremantle and Subiaco face.

The West Australian ‘s Economics Editor Shane Wright this week provided some worthwhile broader context for the state the WA economy is in. He writes that over the last year or so:

  • The domestic side of the WA economy contracted by more than 8 per cent,
  • The jobless rate reached its highest level in 14 years,
  • Rental vacancy rates reached their highest since the 1990-91 recession,
  • WA’s  population growth was the smallest annual increase since 1960 and, in percentage terms, the worst performance since World War II.
  • Over the past year, 40,000 people left WA for the East Coast.

It is tough times in WA and not surprisingly we are feeling it Fremantle too.

But while these numbers are a little depressing it actually gives us reason to be optimistic about Freo’s future. Because while WA has gone backwards economically in recent years, Fremantle is showing visible signs of renewal.

Our vacancy rates are tracking relatively well with around 10% of our 541 retail premises vacant as at October 2016 compared with 16% of the city centre shops or 15%  vacancy rate for Rokeby Rd, Subiaco.

Our festivals are going from strength to strength; in 2017 the Fremantle International Street Arts saw an estimated attendance of 150,000 people up from 110,000 in 2016. It was the busiest Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Fremantle since the City of Fremantle‘s Economic Development and Marketing team have been keeping records and the busiest Friday the Fremantle Markets have ever had!

A recent survey showed:

  • 91% strongly agree or agree Fremantle is different to any other place in WA (up 9% from 2013)
  • 87% said they were ‘definitely likely’ or ‘very likely’ to recommend Fremantle as a place to go (up 16%)
  • 84% of people tell others about how great it is to go to Fremantle (up 20%)

With the Kings Square project starting next month that will bring over 1000 tradies and ultimately over 2000 new workers to Fremantle (a 13% increase) there will be a solid basis on which to renew Fremantle’s economic future. Add to this several thousand new Fremantle residents in coming years and there is good reason to feel upbeat in these otherwise recessionary times.

But – and I emphasis – there is still plenty of work to do to improve the retailing and general economic environment in Freo.

While this is happening, it would be great if we all did as much shopping, eating and drinking in Fremantle as possible to help our  local businesses through these tough times.

I am off to buy a fruit bowl!

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

3 Responses to Freo’s Future in WA’s Tough Economic Times

  1. Roger Garwood says:

    As an aside to this I can put my hand up – I do drink (and shop locally). The interesting (self-righteous) point is that I don’t run a car. I haven’t owned one for 6-7 years. I walk, use a bike and the CAT bus, buses and trains. Life is easier. I count the bike/legs time as exercise and I stay fit as a result. Not running a car gives me a lot more disposable income – about $5000pa. Life in the walking lane is slower and the frustrations associated with running a vehicle have disappeared completely. Even if people are car owners they may find life in the slow lane is a great deal more pleasant.

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