Welcome back! Shaftesbury promises London shoppers excitement post-lockdown
Shopper can expect an “animated, interesting and welcoming” return when retail restrictions are lifted next month. That’s the upbeat promise from London retail property giant Shaftesbury Thursday.
Understandably Shaftesbury, which owns swathes (16 acres to be precise) of prime retail sites across London’s West End, is looking forward with optimism to counter a set of tough rent-gathering numbers for the period covering 1 October-24 February.
“Outlook more positive with social restrictions expected to be relaxed”, reads the sub-head beneath “Economic activity significantly impacted by lockdowns” with its retail business tenants trading for just seven of the 21-week period. Of course, trading in the important peak festive period was restricted to just three weeks.
What that means for Shaftesbury is a big hit on rental receipts. Collections at 19 February amounted to just 45% of total for the quarter to 31 December 2020 and an even worse 36% of January rents collected to date.
However, Shaftesbury did say there were “early signs of improving occupier interest”. Vacancy rates at 31 January stood at 10.8%, up from 10.2% a year ago, but 2.8% was “under offer”.
Meanwhile, Shaftesbury has made it through the worst of the period still holding £358.2 million of available liquidity at 31 December.
An upbeat chief executive Brian Bickell said: "The relaxation of pandemic restrictions will herald the revival of the West End's economy in the months ahead, with a gradual return of local and domestic footfall and the reopening of hospitality businesses, shops and its world-renowned cultural and leisure attractions.
“Our strategy of supporting the survival and reopening of our existing hospitality and retail businesses is aimed at ensuring our locations will be animated, interesting and welcoming for returning customers. We are optimistic that the appeal of our carefully-curated destinations will drive the return of footfall and trading."
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