Shaftesbury says easing of restrictions will herald ‘revival’ of West End

West End landlord Shaftesbury said on Thursday that it has so far collected 45% of rent due for the quarter to 31 December 2020 and 36% of January 2021 rents, as it expressed confidence that the easing of Covid restrictions will bring life back to Central London.
In an update on trading for the period from 1 October 2020 to 24 February 2021, the company said Covid-19 government measures are having a significant impact on economic activity and consumer spending patterns.

It noted that all hospitality and non-essential retailers have only been able to trade for seven out of the past 21 weeks, with capacity limited by social distancing measures and footfall much reduced. Meanwhile, trading in the peak festive period was restricted to just three weeks.

However, following the government’s announcement earlier this week about the upcoming easing of restrictions, Shaftesbury struck an optimistic note on the outlook for the business.

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.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that outdoor hospitality and non-essential retailers will be able to reopen on 12 April.

Shaftesbury said that over recent months, it has seen an increase in occupier interest, particularly from restaurateurs who are looking to open into recovering footfall later in the year once they have completed their fit-out.

“For these, we are typically agreeing slightly longer rent-free periods and some stepped rents to assist their cash flows through the recovery period,” it said.

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