With the growing trend of online retail and large format retail, Hawke's Bay's central business districts are increasingly reliant on hospitality and service providers to draw customers and maintain vibrancy.

Property advisors and valuation firm Logan Stone have released results from its twice-yearly retail occupancy survey. Logan Stone director, Frank Spencer says tailored retail environments with cafes, restaurants, banks and hairdressers is the recipe for success.

"People are shopping online more and more, and the large format retailers are utilising economic efficiencies and operate with lower margins. So it is continuing to make it a challenge for centrally-based retailers," he said.

Spencer has overseen the survey for 14 years and said modern retail was all about convenience.

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"People are now quite confident and willing to travel to shop, or purchase online to meet every day retail needs. However, coming into the central business district to eat or socialise or get their service needs met, is a major drawcard in the current environment."

In Taradale and Havelock North, the service and hospitality sectors account for over half of the retail occupants (53 per cent and 59 per cent respectively). In Napier, these sectors equate to 34 per cent, while in Hastings the breakdown was 40 per cent.

In three of the four retail core areas occupancy rates are at the highest levels for several years as Hawke's Bay enjoys an economic surge.

Havelock North has the highest occupancy at 98 per cent (its highest since August 2012), with Taradale at 94 per cent (highest since August 2015).

Napier has seen the largest increase over the past 12 months, sitting at 93.5 per cent, and is at its highest level since February 2012.

But Hastings retail core has seen occupancy trend downwards to 83 per cent, since its peak of 97 per cent in February 2011, although that downward trend was slowing.

Changes in consumer shopping habits are mirrored across the country, but according to Spencer, Hawke's Bay retailers are working hard to keep their CBDs alive.

"Certainly you see the local marketing entities of those centres such as Havelock North running things like festivals and those sorts of things to people coming in. So the hospitality is increasingly attracting people into those cores."

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