The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has welcomed an extension of rent protections for retailers.
A ban on commercial evictions has been extended until 30 June following a government announcement.
Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, said: “After months of lockdown, this announcement provides much-needed breathing space to retailers impacted most by the pandemic, many of which are sitting on rising rent liabilities.
“Retailers have lost over £22bn of store sales during the three lockdowns, and the ban on aggressive rent enforcement is a vital protection against being pushed into administration by landlords. Where new rent plans have not yet been agreed, tenants and landlords must use this final opportunity to reach a deal before 30 June.”
Responding to the announcement that a Call for Evidence will soon be published seeking views on what to do beyond 30 June, Helen added: “The retail property market is at a crossroads. The measures that are put in place after tenant protections end on 30 June, alongside the reform of business rates expected a few months later, are an opportunity to reset and revive the landlord/tenant relationship.
“The overriding objective must be to avoid a cliff edge where support is withdrawn and landlords are able to chase all rent debts built up during the months of closures. Such a scenario would result in too many stores being shuttered for good, costing tens of thousands of jobs, just when retailers will be needed to unlock pent up demand and help in the economic recovery.
“However, if Government and landlords can work constructively with all tenants to achieve a new normal where all parties are economic partners not adversaries, there is scope to support the reinvention of our shopping centres, out-of-town parks, and high streets all across the country.”