COVID-curbed theaters, restaurants held rent collections under 90% in September

Al Urbanski
Real Estate Editor & Manager
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Cinema chains paid just 10% of their rents in September.

Paid rents at retail centers ticked up from 81% in August to 83% in September, still far below the 93% collected last year at this time. The reason? Restaurants and theaters whose businesses remain severely hampered by social distancing regulations.

Though cinemas were able to open in most states last month, seating requirements forcing them to seat less than half full houses cost them profits. As a result, only 10% paid their September rents, a huge decline from last month’s 43%, according to the Datex Tenant Track of more than 1,000 shopping centers.

Those seating limitations have led movie studios to hold back big new releases that cinema chains were counting on this holiday season. After re-opening in August, Regal Cinemas once again shut down all 536 of its theaters when MGM/Universal pulled back its new James Bond film, “No Time to Die.”

After movie theaters, the most delinquent rent-paying categories in retail were fitness centers (65%), salons (71%), specialty restaurants (72%), and apparel (77%), according to the monthly report from Datex Property Solutions, a supply chain software and management solutions provider that derives the rental data from its client base.

Regal Cinemas paid no rents in September. Other scant-paying brands included Cinepolis (25%), Francesca’s (26%), Orange Theory (27%), Regis (29%), and 24-Hour Fitness (31%)

The most faithful rent payers were drug stores at 99%, followed by banks and pet supply stores (both 98%), home improvement (97%), office supplies (96%), shoes (95%), beauty supplies (94%), and specialty food stores (91%).

Datex’s tracking of average sales per square foot showed retailers of essential goods starting to see declines in their record-setting COVID-19 grosses in August. Compared to July, average per-supermarket sales dropped 44% (from $1,006 to $567), dollar stores fell 28%, and beauty supply shops dropped 27%.