Australian cities were transformed in the 1950s and 1960s by the spread of the automobile and suburbanization. This article examines the patterns of retail diffusion that followed and the resultant adoption of the shopping centre form. Further, it considers the broader implications of retail innovation during a period of urban disruption, revealing intersections between urban geographies, business innovation and retail hierarchies. In the Australian case, dominant firms were able to leverage their market power to adapt to shifting retail geographies and new technologies, while some small entrepreneurial developers catering to the needs of these established retailers laid foundations for national and international expansion. A by-product of these processes was the creation of a unique Australian shopping centre form.