Two-thirds of retailers have been told by landlords that they will be subject to legal measures from July, as an agreement with commercial landlords comes to an end.
The high street could see yet more closures in the near future, as from 30 June, a moratorium agreed at the start of the pandemic that prevented commercial landlords taking legal action to claim rent or evict tenants will come to an end.
With retailers hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, having been closed for large periods during the last 15 months, many have accrued huge debts that they are only just beginning to be able to pay, with total debt is estimated to be £2.9bn.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), almost a third (30%) of retailers have already faced County Court judgements from commercial landlords.
Furthermore, 80 per cent of tenants said some landlords have given them less than a year to pay back rent arrears accrued during the pandemic.
Retailers are running out of times to save their businesses, and where an agreement cannot be reached by 1 July between retailers and landlords, many shops will find themselves unable to maintain their presence on high streets, shopping centres and retail parks.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Government must ringfence the rent debts built up during the pandemic, giving retailers breathing space as they wait for footfall and cash flows to return.
“With this in place, all parties can work on a sustainable long-term solution, one that shares the pain wrought by the pandemic more equally between landlords and tenants.
“Without action, it will be our city centres, our high streets and our shopping centres that suffer the consequences, holding back the wider economic recovery.”