UK retail faces ‘tsunami of closures’ without rent aid
LONDON – Britain’s retail sector will experience a ‘tsunami of closures’ if the government does not extend a moratorium on aggressive debt collection, industry lobby group the British Retail Consortium said on Sunday ( BRC).
Citing survey data, he said two-thirds of UK retailers had been told by landlords that they would be subject to legal action to recover unpaid rent from July 1, when the moratorium would end .
Many UK retailers deemed ‘non-essential’ have had to close their stores during several COVID-19 lockdowns over the past 15 months, racking up a total rent debt of 2.9 billion pounds ($ 4.1 billion), a said the BRC.
The pandemic has hammered the industry and industry data shows that one in seven stores is already empty.
The BRC survey found that 80% of renters said some landlords gave them less than a year to pay off rent arrears.
Without action, ending the moratorium could see thousands of stores close, said Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive.
She called on the British government to allow the cantonment of rent arrears accumulated during the pandemic and to extend the moratorium on the repayment of these debts until the end of the year.
“With this in place, all parties can work on a long-term sustainable solution, one that more equitably shares the pain of the pandemic between landlords and tenants,” she said.
“Without action, it will be our city centers, our main streets and our shopping centers that will suffer the consequences, slowing down the economic recovery in the broad sense.” – Reuters