Retailers have started paying rent again but are still fighting with their landlords

Less than a third of retail companies paid at least 75% of June rent, according to a study by the National Retail Federation and the investment bank PJ Solomon.

Month by month, retailers are starting to pay more rent as states lift shutdown orders and consumers become more comfortable venturing out to shop during the coronavirus pandemic. But negotiations, sometimes heated, continue between tenants and landlords.

In some cities and popular shopping districts, commercial rents are still sky high. Tensions keep brewing, as mall and shopping center owners grapple with retailers looking to close stores permanently, downsize or try to rewrite contracts in their favor. And the pressures are likely to roll into 2021, with the start of the year typically drawing a fresh wave of retail store closures as companies reevaluate their brick-and-mortar footprints after the holidays.

Less than a third of companies paid at least 75% of June rent, according to a study released Thursday by the National Retail Federation and the investment bank PJ Solomon. By July, the number of rent payers had almost doubled to 65%, it said. The study polled 48 C-level executives at retailers with at least 10 stores and more than $100 million in sales in 2019, from July 15 to July 28.

The survey also found that 73% of retailers that missed payments are planning to pay back at least half of the rent owed since a nationwide shutdown began in March. More than half of respondents said they were able to get some sort of rent relief from their landlords, with deferrals into late 2020 or 2021 being the most likely concession.

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