‘Body blow’ from pandemic pushes 80% of retailers into arrears

New survey says some landlords are refusing to engage over arrears

Non-essential retailers were closed for several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photograph: iStock

Non-essential retailers were closed for several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photograph: iStock

 

Some 80 per cent of retailers are in rent arrears after the “body blow” dealt by the Covid-19 pandemic, new research has found.

The survey, by Retail Excellence, found the majority of retailers were in rent arrears with at least one landlord. And in 20 per cent of those cases, landlords would not engage or were demanding full payment of rent.

The periods under dispute include the nine months that “non-essential” shops were forced to close their doors, the survey said.

Institutional landlords

Two-thirds of the arrears cases without appropriate resolution involved institutional landlords. Where landlords were willing to engage, most were opting for a 50 per cent discount on periods of closure, or a deferred payment plan.

The survey, which was carried out by Retail Excellence following an appearance at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment last month, questioned 145 retailers with 1,650 outlets across the State.

“We welcome any engagement from landlords on rent arrears and, as such, it is concerning to see one in five respondents say landlords are not engaging with them on rent due and are demanding full payment despite the fact that stores were shut for nine months,” said Retail Excellence managing director Duncan Graham.

He said it was ironic that institutional landlords and shopping centres appeared to represent the majority of cases where an appropriate resolution could not be found.

“Deals are being done across the board but in general, it seems it is the smaller, local landlords that are being reasonable and willing to compromise. The majority of problem cases from this survey refer to bigger landlords.”